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Women’s basketball prepares for Power of Pink

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Women’s basketball prepares for Power of Pink

CW/ Joe Will Field

CW/ Joe Will Field

CW/ Joe Will Field

CW/ Joe Will Field

RJ Nealon, Sports Writer

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Alabama is hoping to expunge the memories of a tough loss to Florida. After leading the Gators for 34 minutes, including a nine-point advantage in the second half, the Crimson Tide crumbled in the final minutes. With 15 seconds remaining and the game tied 55-55, Delicia Washington hit a go-ahead jumper to lock in the win for Florida.

“I thought we had a couple of critical turnovers that led to transition threes,” head coach Kristy Curry said in a press release. “They had a lot of good looks in transition, and Funda [Nakkasoglu] got cut loose a couple of times, and we just have to take care of the ball on the road.”

Alabama’s impending game against Kentucky will be about more than just basketball. It’s the annual Power of Pink/Play4Kay game. The Power of Pink/Play4Kay game raises awareness for individuals who have fought breast cancer.

The namesake of Play4Kay, Kay Yow, spent 38 years coaching women’s college basketball, most notably at North Carolina State University. Yow was in an on-again, off-again fight with breast cancer for over two decades before passing away in 2009. Many of the women’s sports teams wear pink in a game during the season to raise breast cancer awareness. This week it’s basketball.

“I think all of us have been impacted with someone that we know or that we’re kin to that’s had some sort of cancer that a lot of women can get,” Curry said. “So, it’s a chance for us to raise awareness. Obviously, Coach Kay and Play4Kay mean so much for our sport, and the Power of Pink movement means so much in Tuscaloosa with our connection with DCH and how all the women’s sports here come together and have a Power of Pink night.

“We are just excited to support the cause and raise awareness,” Curry continued. “I know that coach Kay wants us to continue the fight every day. We are just proud to represent her. When you look at us coming back from Florida, we are going to be educating our team over the next few days who was coach Kay and what is Play4Kay. You know, one of her favorite quotes was ‘When life kicks you, let it kick you forward,’ and that is something we needed today. We are all going to have moments that don’t go our way, and we have to let that kick us forward. So, looking forward to that being our thought of the day tomorrow and our team understanding what she’s done for our game and what she continues to do for Play4Kay.”

Alabama is riding a two-game losing streak, while Kentucky has won its last two. Leading the Crimson Tide is junior Cierra Johnson, who has scored double digits in her previous six games, and 18 of the last 20 match-ups. Johnson leads the team with 14.6 points per game and total assists with 67 through 23 games. She has stepped into a leadership role since junior Jordan Lewis had a season-ending injury. Over the last 10 games, she is averaging 16 points per game (7th in SEC), 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists.

Following her is Jasmine Walker, who is currently second on the team in scoring with 13.2 points per game and the leading rebounder with 7.3 rebounds per game.

For the Wildcats, Rhyne Howard (16.5 points per game) and Maci Morris (16.1 points per game) lead the team. Behind them is Taylor Murray, averaging double figures with 12.7 points per game. Kentucky is second in the SEC in critical categories: assists-to-turnover ratio (1.02), scoring margin (16.4), steals per game (10.8) and three-point field goals made (184). The Wildcats are in first in three-point field goal percentage (37.7), turnover margin (8.33) and turnovers forced per game (22.13).

The Crimson Tide struggles in many of those areas and will have to focus on taking care of the ball and minimizing mistakes. Alabama is 235th in the country for turnovers, averaging 17.1 per game, and 229th in the nation averaging 39.1 field goal percentage. In multiple games this season, the Crimson Tide has had more than 20 turnovers, an area where Alabama cannot afford any mishaps.

As the season has progressed, there have been many ups and downs, but the young players have made their presence known, and many times have been the spark Alabama has needed. However, with six games remaining, the Crimson Tide is in a must-win position.

Alabama will face No. 19 Kentucky on Monday, Feb. 11 before going on a two-game road trip. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m.

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Women’s basketball prepares for Power of Pink