As time ticked away in Greensboro, Alabama was forced to accept their fate.
It would be an opening round exit in the SEC Tournament, and a fourth straight loss for the Crimson Tide, this time to Kentucky, 71-58.
“At this time of year though, you’ve got to step up and make plays. And you can defend and rebound and control that and we’ve got some older kids that haven’t done that lately,” head coach Kristy Curry said.
“We’ve gotta ask ourselves why, individually, look in the mirror a little bit, I think.”
Aaliyah Nye led the Crimson Tide with 15 points (6-12) including three triples and three steals. Nye was the only Alabama player that reached double-digit scoring against the Wildcats.
All-SEC First Team member Brittany Davis was never able to find a rhythm, scoring just 9 points (4-16). She was able to grab seven rebounds – four of them offensive boards – but committed four turnover.
“I don’t have an answer,” Curry said when asked about Davis’s off night.
“I thought we got a couple looks at the rim, wide open, a couple set plays, you’ve just gotta finish those. It’s the time of year where players step up and make plays, and for whatever reason she wasn’t able to tonight.”
Turnovers plagued the Tide throughout the game. Alabama committed 19 over the course of the game, leading to 22 points for Kentucky.
The Tide also made just 13 of their 27 layup attempts on the night.
With their fate now in the hands of the tournament committee, there is still some positivity from the players and belief that the team can bounce back from a rough stretch.
“I think every game is a new opportunity,” Sarah Ashlee Barker said after the loss.
“I think you have to stay together and have confidence that, you know, we are a good basketball team. We’ve had some slippage the last couple games, and honestly that’s been on us as players. It’s the little things, it’s the boxing out, it’s the diving on the ground for loose balls, just having teams out hustle us. Things we know we can control.”
How It Happened
Alabama opened the game with a case of the turnover bug, but the shots they were able to get off were falling.
The Tide opened shot 8-12 in the first quarter, and knocked down three triples. Hannah Barber opened the game locked in, scoring 6 points while dishing three assists to start the tournament.
In comparison, the second quarter seemed like a drought for the Crimson Tide. Shots were aplenty and they cut down on the turnovers, but shot just 27.8% from the field.
Unusually, Davis scored just 2 points in the opening half on 1-8 shooting. Despite that, Alabama would close the half up 6 points against the Wildcats.
The third saw Alabama increase their lead to 10 points, but a Kentucky run would see them close the quarter trailing the Crimson Tide by just a single point.
Alabama wouldn’t score until the 5:46 mark in the final quarter, allowing Kentucky to build a 6 point lead. Seemingly every time the Tide tried to fight back, the Wildcats had an answer.
Sarah Ashlee Barker’s three that cut the lead to just 4 points with 3:48 remaining was immediately answered by a and-one layup from Kentucky’s Maddie Scherr.
From that point, Alabama would not come within 9 points again after leading the game for over 29 of the 40 minutes.
Alabama will now be forced to wait and see what’s in store for them on Selection Sunday, which will take place at 7 p.m. CT on March 12. The show will be broadcast live on ESPN.
Photo credit to UA Athletics.
Follow Nicholas Pursley on Twitter @nicholaspursley for 24/7 coverage of Alabama women’s basketball.