Alabama Women’s Basketball Advances to Quarterfinals of SEC Tournament with 72-64 win over Tennessee
Alabama used a big second half, outscoring Tennessee by 15, to advance past the Lady Volunteers, 72-64, in the second round of play in the Southeastern Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament on Thursday at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. With the win, the Crimson Tide moves to 19-12 overall, while the loss drops Tennessee to 19-11.
Alabama will now face No. 4 seed Kentucky in the quarterfinals, which will be the Tide’s first appearance in the SEC tournament quarterfinals since 2005. Alabama’s 19 wins are also the most it has had in a season since the 2001-02 campaign.
“I’m just really proud of our team today,” said Alabama head coach Kristy Curry. “I thought that our energy and effort is something that's always within our control. I knew at halftime and told them if we could hold them to 29 the second half, we weren't going to shoot it as bad as we did the first half. Thankfully we made some shots, had confidence in each huddle and had some balance offensively.”
Alabama had five finish in double-figure points, led by junior Meoshonti Knight with 16. She was joined by sophomore Shaquera Wade, who had 12, while junior Ashley Williams and freshmen Ashley Knight and Jordan Lewis added 10 apiece. Ashley Knight had a team-high 11 rebounds for her second double-double, in addition to six blocks, while Lewis tied her career-best in assists with eight.
“Ashley (Knight) really learned a lot from the first experience with Tennessee,” added Curry. “She really took some things to heart and came out and did a great job. Meo (Knight) had a tremendous day.”
The Lady Vols were led by redshirt junior Mercedes Russell, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Junior Quanetria Bolton scored the first five points for Alabama to put the Tide in front 5-3 at the 7:36 mark in the first. Tennessee then put up the next eight straight to take a six-point advantage, however Alabama would respond by closing out the quarter on a 10-3 run to lead by one, 15-14, at quarter’s end.
The Lady Vols outscored the Tide, 13-3, over an eight-minute span in the second to lead by nine with the score set at 27-18. The two teams would trade baskets over the final two minutes of play in the half, but it would be Ashley Knight with the final bucket to cut the deficit to seven, 29-22, as time expired.
Tennessee came out in the third and scored five of the first seven points to take its first double-digit lead of the game with 8:11 on the clock. Alabama then began its run to top the Lady Vols by outscoring Tennessee 19-5 to end the quarter with a 43-39 lead.
The Tide continued to lead throughout the fourth quarter responding with crucial baskets each time the Lady Vols scored. Over the final 43 seconds, Alabama made nine of its 12 free throw attempts to seal the victory.
For the game, Alabama shot 42.4 percent (25-59), while Tennessee finished at 35.8 percent (24-67) from the floor. The Tide outrebounded the Lady Vols, 44-31, and outscored Tennessee, 15-7, in second chance points.