Originally created 01/12/04

Alabama edges South Carolina



TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Monique Bivins scored nine of her 16 points during a late rally to help Alabama defeat South Carolina 74-71 Sunday in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.

Katie Sipe added 16 points and Natasha Gamble had 12 as the Crimson Tide (9-5, 1-0) snapped a two-game losing streak.

Kelly Morrone and Cristina Ciocan scored 17 points apiece to lead the Gamecocks (8-5, 0-1), who have lost four straight.

After falling behind 63-56 with 5:45 to play, Alabama got back-to-back 3-pointers from Bivins and Sipe to cut the lead to 66-64. Consecutive baskets by Bivins then pulled the Tide within one.

Bivins scored again to give the Tide a 70-69 lead, but she fouled Olga Gritsaeva on the ensuing possession. The sohpomore from Russia hit both free throws, giving her 10 points and reclaiming the lead for the Gamecocks.

Kate Mastin hit a tough lay-in with 25 seconds left for a 72-71 Alabama lead, and after a missed Gamecock shot Lauren Hill was fouled with three seconds left. Hill hit a pair of free throws to make the score 74-71, and Ciocan's desperation shot at the buzzer bounced on the rim twice before falling off.

Hill finished with 11 points.