By (James Ogletree)

Alabama women’s basketball defeated the Antelope Valley Pioneers, 108-53, in an exhibition Wednesday night, in what was the first full basketball game played at Coleman Coliseum since February.

Though the outcome of the game was rarely, if ever, in doubt, Alabama players were simply glad to get back on the court and compete against some different jerseys.

“It felt good to come out here and start the season off,” senior forward Ashley Williams said. “We’re used to banging on each other, so finally getting out here to go up against other people was a good experience.”

Near the end of the first quarter, Ashley Knight, a 6-foot-5 forward whose 90 blocks as a freshman last season led the SEC and set a school record, picked up right where she left off. Playing suffocating defense, she stuck to her assigned player and effortlessly stuck her arm in the way of the shot. Less than nine minutes into the game, she already had her third block.

A few minutes earlier, sophomore guard Jordan Lewis returned to the game in place of senior Alana da Silva. Six seconds later, she lunged into the path of a pass from Antelope Valley point guard Kyleesha Green, securing the steal.

Lewis sent a high, arcing pass down the court to an open Shaquera Wade, who converted the layup and elicited the loudest roar yet from the home crowd. It was the first assist of the season for Lewis, who recorded the fifth-most in the SEC during her freshman campaign last year.

Knight said the team had no difficulty shaking off the offseason rust and getting back into a competitive frame of mind.

“I think we did a good job of changing gears and getting our mindset from practice to a game mindset,” Knight said.

Antelope Valley power forward Tylen Price led all scorers with 19 points. Senior guard Coco Knight led Alabama with 15 points off the bench and shot 64 percent from the floor. Senior forward Nene Bolton racked up 11 points and seven rebounds in only 11 minutes.

“Anytime you can have seven in double figures and score 108 points, it really doesn’t matter who you’re playing,” Curry said. “I liked our presence offensively and also the ability to change our defenses and show a lot of different looks.”

The Crimson Tide defense shut out Antelope Valley for nearly seven minutes early on, and held the Pioneers to less than 30 percent shooting from the floor and 17 percent from beyond the arc.

Despite the large victory margin, Curry still pinpointed areas in which the team needs to improve.

“We have to shoot the ball better,” Curry said. “We missed a lot of open looks, but I think a lot of that was because we were pressing and maybe just a few jitters.”

She also said the team strives to limit its turnovers to 13 or fewer, a number it slightly exceeded Wednesday night in committing 15 against the Pioneers.

Alabama will open the regular season against Alabama A&M on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. CT. The Lady Bulldogs finished with an 0-18 record in the Southwestern Athletic Conference last year and 2-25 overall.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports