Alabama-Huntsville defeats women’s team in closing moments

Senior guard Janae Lyde goes up for a layup against Alabama-Huntsville Jan. 16 in Flowers Hall. Lyde and the Lions fell just short against the Chargers, losing 63-55.

A rivalry rekindled Jan. 16 as the UNA women’s basketball team faced Alabama-Huntsville in this year’s first meeting.

An injury-plagued Lions team put up a fight but fell just short, losing 63-55. UNA (2-14, 1-10 Gulf South Conference) had momentum going into halftime and took the lead in the third quarter. After losing their 49-46 third quarter lead, the team struggled to score points in the fourth.

UNA assistant head coach Adrianne Harlow filled in for head coach Missy Tiber, who was out of town for personal reasons.

Harlow said UNA had success driving to the basket in the first half as the team did a good job at drawing foul calls. However, in the second half, UAH made the proper adjustments.

“We did not adjust,” Harlow said. “I think that’s because of nerves and inexperience, maybe a lack of execution in a way. They have a team with upperclassmen, and those girls are the ones that pulled it out for them.”

Sophomore guard Keke Gunter, who came off a recent injury, said despite the loss, she was happy with the fan turnout. Gunter finished with 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds.

When a lot of people come to the game, it gets us really energized before the game,” Gunter said. “We’ve been lacking that energy the last couple of games, so today, we were really pumped up. Even though we lost, we were playing a lot harder than we had been playing. We definitely feed off of the crowd’s energy.”

Gunter said each player knows the rivalry has a huge meaning.

“Even though I’m only a sophomore, I’ve seen that every time we play, it’s going to be aggressive,” she said. “It’s going to be a dog-fight and sometimes dirty play. We just have to fight through it and be aggressive.”

Freshman Elise Holden, who led the Lions 15 points, said the team not only wanted to beat its rival, but honor their head coach in the process.

“We wanted to win the game for (Tiber),” Holden said. “We had a meeting a couple of days ago to talk about turning our team around and how to start winning games. It was hard to not win tonight, but we fought hard until the very end.”

UNA hopes to have a full roster in their next game at home against West Florida Jan. 21. Harlow said the Lions are excited to see what kind of team they have when almost everyone is healthy.

“Next week, barring anything crazy this week, we will finally have a full-compliment 13 (players),” she said. “Hopefully, we will be at 100 percent for the first time all year.”

The Lions and Argonauts are scheduled to tip off at 6 p.m. in Flowers Hall. Following that game, UNA closes out a three-game homestand against Valdosta State Jan. 23.