GREENVILLE, S.C.- The no. 11 seed Alabama women’s basketball team began their run at the 2019 SEC Women’s Tournament Wednesday afternoon taking on the 14th seeded Vanderbilt Commodores. Head coach Kristy Curry’s mindset for the tournament is to take advantage of the fact that anything can happen in postseason basketball.
“You look forward to the opportunity for a brand new season, I feel like our kids understand the opportunity that lies in front of them and we’re going to try to make the most of it,” Curry said.
This round of the tourney featured only the bottom four schools in the conference and served as a “play-in” style game. Florida cruised past Ole Miss in the first of two Wednesday games just prior to Bama’s showdown with Vandy.
The two teams met once in the regular season when Vanderbilt played host to the Crimson Tide just twelve days prior to their postseason meeting. Alabama steamrolled the ‘Dors in that contest 84-65 all thanks to a 25 point effort by Cierra Johnson who didn’t miss a single three in that game.
Wednesday’s showdown began in front of speckles of crimson, gold, orange, blue, purple and any other color imaginable as fans received an all-day pass with the purchase of a ticket. Both teams struggled offensively in the first five minutes of play only scoring a combined four points (2-2).
Bama secured 10 offensive rebounds in the first 10 minutes of action and led the Commodores 16-11 at the first break. Jasmine Walker knocked down the Tide’s first 3-point basket of the game and led Alabama in scoring through the end of the first quarter along with Cierra Johnson both with five.
UA jumped out to an eleven point lead early in the second period after three made baskets in the paint by three different Alabama players. This lead would remain steady through the rest of the 2nd quarter with a strong effort from Shaquera Wade, playing in her final SEC tournament, giving Alabama their biggest lead of the game to that point 32-20 going into the half.
Wade led the Tide in scoring at the halfway mark with 10 points, Ariyah Copeland was close behind with eight of her own. Johnson and Wade played all 20 minutes of the first two periods. The Crimson Tide shot 48.3% from the field and 75% from beyond the arc in the first half.
Only twenty minutes stood between Alabama and a date with arch rival Auburn University in the second round of the tournament. Vanderbilt made it clear that they were going to create a roadblock for the Tide as well keeping UA off the scoreboard for the first two minutes of the second half.
Bama had no trouble responding to a tough start offensively going on a 15-6 run in the next seven minutes allowing their lead to grow to its biggest margin of the game at 20, 48-28 with four minutes to go in the third quarter.
Vandy would retaliate and close out the third period on a quick 4-0 run to cut the Alabama lead back to 13 at 56-43, which is where it would remain at the final break after a buzzer-beating jumper hit by Shaq Wade was waved off by the referees.
In the fourth quarter, the Crimson Tide wouldn’t allow a single point until just after four minutes in, beginning the final 10 minutes on a 7-0 run.
The two teams would trade buckets throughout the next five minutes leaving 2:14 left in the game, Bama with a 70-53 lead. With 135 seconds left Jasmine Walker and Shaquera Wade went stride for stride with 22 points apiece.
Wade would tack on four more points to her total to finish the day leading the Crimson Tide with 26, pushing Alabama to the second round of the tournament after a dominant 74-57 victory over Vanderbilt University. This win sets up Bama for a match-up with in-state rival Auburn Thursday evening at 8:30.
As for the Commodores, they end their season with a final record of 7-23 and 2-14 in the conference. Vandy guard Lealea Carter weighed in on VU’s trouncing by Bama after the game.
“It’s earned and I felt like we didn’t earn it today at all,” Carter said.
Tomorrow night’s Iron Bowl of women’s basketball will determine who moves on to the quarterfinal round to take on the Texas A&M Aggies Friday.
Player of the Game: Senior, Guard; Shaquera Wade- 26 pts, 9 rebs, 4 ast., 2 stl.
(Photo Courtesy The Crimson White)