The stakes were high on Thursday night at Coleman Coliseum in Tuscaloosa, Ala. when the Crimson Tide (14-5) faced off against the undefeated Mississippi State Bulldogs (20-0). Every shot, every block and every rebound was a chance for redemption, as well as a victory.
An undefeated season for an SEC team was not something the Mississippi State women’s basketball team took lightly, and neither did their fans as the Bulldogs came away with a 67-54 victory. The stands in Coleman Coliseum were roaring with an abundance of MSU fans dressed in maroon, white, and gray. With each basket scored by MSU, cheers rang out so loud they simply could not be ignored.
After two straight home losses for Alabama, a win was not only desired, but also needed.
Thursday night’s game was played in partnership with the SEC’s annual “We Back Pat” week. The goal is to order to raise awareness and recognition for The Pat Summitt Foundation, a fund of East Tennessee Foundation and their fight against Alzheimer’s Disease.
“We knew it was going to be a very intense game but we shouldn’t let that control our speed,” said Alabama junior guard Hannah Cook. “We just need to take care of the ball more and have less turnovers.”
Alabama accounted for 29 turnovers in total, while MSU only had 18. Cook scored the first basket for the Crimson Tide when she drained a three-pointer in the first period. Alabama was off to a promising start, but Mississippi State fought back to get ahead 18-13 by the end of the first period.
The Crimson Tide followed closely behind the Mississippi State Bulldogs in the first two periods, which gave the Tide a fighting chance against the Bulldogs before half time.
“We were aggressive and we were able to get to the free-throw line and that’s a big difference in the game,” said Alabama head coach Kristy Curry of the first half. “You can’t miss 14 free-throws and have 20 plus turnovers…against these guys any open link you get when no one’s guarding you is a plus and we did not take advantage.”
The third period was explosive for Mississippi State after a pep talk from head coach Vic Schaefer at half time. The Bulldogs needed to come back harder and faster than Alabama in the final half and Schaefer did all he could to ensure his team would do just that.
The Bulldogs scored 26 points in the third while Alabama fell behind, only managing to put 9 on the board.
“You worry about not giving your best effort and just turning loose and playing, you got no chance if you don’t do that,” Schaefer said. “I thought for the first half we weren’t ready to play, and that’s my fault… I thought the third quarter we played loose and that’s our team.”
The fourth and final period became an opportunity for the Crimson Tide to fight to the finish. Alabama ended up outscoring the Bulldogs by 12 points in the quarter. While Mississippi State was able to find success in this period, they struggled to finish strong in the fourth.
Alabama and Mississippi State were both able to get 35 total rebounds while MSU made 44 percent of their shots and Alabama made 42 percent.
“I thought that we were hurried instead of being calm and settled and poised and they did exactly what they wanted to do,” Curry said. “I was a little disappointed in our post, we had 16 post turnovers and 13 on the perimeter so…at the end of the day they did what they do and they did it well and hats off to those guys tonight. ”
The Crimson Tide will play Ole Miss (13-6) on Sunday, Jan 22 in Oxford, Mississippi.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports