BIRMINGHAM — North Alabama coach Terry Fowler hopes his team is over the nervousness it showed in the first round of the Gulf South Conference Tournament.
The Lions, the No. 2 seed in the tournament, struggled in the first half Thursday against No. 7 seed Christian Brothers. UNA trailed 28-22 at halftime before putting together a strong second half to claim a 63-52 victory.
UNA (20-9) will face West Alabama (13-14) in today’s semifinal
at 2:30 p.m. The Lions will attempt to reach the tournament championship game for the first time since 1985, which was the only women’s GSC championship in school
“The first game of the tournament is always a little tough, especially when you are the higher-seeded team,” Fowler said. “I think we tightened up when we missed some easy shots, but I’m proud of the way the girls stayed together. They were not coming back to the locker room without a win.”
Nichelle Fillmore scored 18 points to lead UNA in the win. Lauren Faris added 12 points and Jennifer Towne scored 10.
Fillmore said she expects to Lions to be much less nervous today.
“I felt like we settled down a lot in the second half,” Fillmore said. “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves coming in, but we got past that. I think now we’ll be able to settle down and just play.”
Thursday’s victory gave UNA 20 wins for the second time in the last three seasons. The Lions were 21-7 in the 2010-11season.
“The mark in the game of basketball is 20 wins,” Fowler said. “We won a buzzer-beater at Delta State, but we also feel we gave a couple away this year. But I’m happy for this team because it is a very special group.”
West Alabama, the No. 6 seed, advanced to the semifinals Friday with a 58-41 victory over West Georgia.
The Lions swept West Alabama this season, beating the Tigers 66-58 in Florence on Jan. 26 and winning 61-46 in Livingston last Saturday. The Tigers are the defending tournament champions.
“We did sweep West Alabama, but our girls understand what they are capable of,” Fowler said. “They have two first-team all-conference players, so they are certainly capable of winning the tournament.
“It helps that we just played them last week. That makes our preparation easier, but of course it’s the same for them. Hopefully having fresher legs with pay off for us.”
Jeff McIntyre can be reached at
256-740-5737 or jeff.mcintyre@TimesDaily.com. Follow
@TD_JeffMcIntyre on Twitter.