You only get so many chances.


For Alabama, it started with the chance to bring back multiple fifth-year seniors for one last run. Then the transfer portal opened, and the Tide were gifted with a stellar haul of players, two of whom would be starters.


Multiple chances to knock off top-25 teams came and went.


A 20-win season for the first time in two decades? It seemed like things were just getting started. Then something changed.


One loss turned into two. Loss to a No. 1? Expected. The SEC Tournament appeared and vanished with just one game.


But regardless, the NCAA Women’s Tournament loomed, representing the last chance to save their season of chances – a golden ticket for a program seeking to change its trajectory.


But before Alabama could catch its breath, the window of opportunity – its last chance – had slammed shut. Saturday’s loss to Baylor, 78-74, marked five straight losses for the Tide to close the season.


“First of all, I’m really proud of the kids in that locker room for the season that they’ve had,” head coach Kristy Curry said.


“Obviously we’re visibly upset,” Curry said just seconds after two of her seniors – Brittany Davis and Hannah Barber – had left the media room with tears in their eyes.


The One that Got Away

Just like the season that had led into that moment, their opening round game against the Bears had presented Alabama with a myriad of chances to punch their ticket. But those chances fell by the wayside after late-game mistakes.


They opened the game as hot as they’d been all season, leading Baylor by 18 after the opening 10 minutes.


Davis had what might be the greatest game of her collegiate career, scoring 33 points on 10-16 shooting with seven threes. The Bears couldn’t handle anything the All-SEC First Teamer threw their way.


“If that’s Brittany Davis’ last game, holy cow, she was fantastic,” Baylor coach Nicki Collen said after the game.


“Like there were times when we made mistakes on her, and there were times when we were right there and she just, she was better than us one-on-one.”


Even with everything in Alabama’s favor, Baylor scored 24 or more points in the final three quarters to put themselves in the game with under a minute to go.


With 38 seconds remaining and leading by one, Alabama’s Aaliyah Nye fouled Baylor’s Caitlin Bickle just after she had grabbed the rebound. Already in the bonus, this foul allowed Baylor to flip the game – essentially for free – without wasting a second of time.


A mental error at the worst of times.


On the ensuing Alabama possession, Barber traveled after a hand-off.


“Obviously I ended up turning it over, and at the end of the day, that’s on me,” Barber said.


“We have to find a way to get a shot off in those kind of situations.”


After extending the game with a foul, Baylor missed the second free throw but were able to grab the offensive rebound. A successful trip to the line all but sealed the game.


Unable to find a shot on the last possession, the Tide turned the ball over and Baylor had completed the third largest comeback in the history of the Women’s NCAA Tournament.


“You know, we just had too many mistakes down the stretch. A silly foul, a travel, a missed box out there on the free throw,” Curry said.


“Basketball is a game of mistakes. I don’t want those three mistakes to define who they are and what they’ve done for the program. Baylor made some plays down the stretch, and we weren’t able to. At the end of the day, that’s the game.”


For 24/7 coverage of Alabama Women’s Basketball, follow Nicholas Pursley on Twitter @nicholaspursley.


Photo Credit to Alabama Athletics.