It all came down to one moment when the Alabama women’s basketball took on the No. 10 ranked Texas A&M Aggies in Foster Auditorium on Jan. 28 in a game that ended 59-56 in favor of Texas A&M. Sophomore Karyla Middlebrook drove to the basket with 1.7 seconds left on the clock, converted on a lay up attempt that would then be waved off due to an offensive foul call by the referee when Senior Jordan Jones forced a charge.
“Once I saw her (Middlebrook) get by my teammate, I knew she had been finishing at the rim all night so I wanted to stand there and take the charge,” Jones said. “When I fell, I kind of blacked out a bit.”
Boos cascaded from the stands of Foster Auditorium as the charge was called, which saw Texas A&M hang on to its one-point lead. After a technical foul was issued on the Alabama bench, the Aggies sunk two free throws and dribbled the clock out to take home a three-point victory. Alabama head coach Kristy Curry believes the last Alabama possession was about more than just a call.
“I think the thing about the last play was Karyla Middlebrook having the character and the guts to take that shot,” Curry said. “It speaks volumes. I just credit her for the heart. We are not going to talk about officiating.”
Alabama had a six-point lead with 2:30 left in the game, after sophomore Hannah Cook drained two free throws. With the crowd on its feet, Alabama looked to hang onto the lead before Jones hit a three pointer to cut the lead to three with 2:18 left. After a jump shot by senior Courtney Walker, the lead was cut to one and Karyla Middlebrook went to the line and missed both free throws.
In the final minute of the game, Walker hit another jump shot to send Texas A&M into the lead 57-56, and the Aggies would hang onto the lead after the charge call in the last five seconds of the game.
“You have to remember that is a final four official that made the call,” said Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair. “That isn’t someone right off the banana boat. She has been in final fours.”
Alabama suffered its third-straight loss by ten or less points in the game after falling tonight. Coach Curry said that the game did not come down to the last call, that the team had a lot of crucial missed free throws and empty possessions. Emotion filled the locker room after Alabama’s tough loss.
“That’s a tear-filled locker room I just left,” Curry said. “One that I have a lot of respect and love for and appreciation, because I thought they played their hearts outtonight.”
Sophomores Quanetria Bolton and Karyla Middlebrook turned in memorable performances in the loss for Alabama, with Bolton scoring 16 points in the loss and Middlebrook having 15. Bolton added a team-high five rebounds to her stat line.
Texas A&M, who shot 39 percent from the field, out rebounded Alabama (44 percent), 41-28. Turnovers were almost even at 17 for the Aggies and 16 for the Crimson Tide.
Alabama went back and forth with Texas A&M for most of the night. The third quarter featured multiple lead changes and tie games up and continued into the fourth quarter when Texas A&M pulled out the win.
“I feel like this program is heading in the right direction,” Curry said. “It is attributed to the character in that locker room tonight.”
Alabama’s next matchup will take place when the team travels to Knoxville, Tenn. to take on the Lady Volunteers on Jan 31.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports