All good things must come to an end.
On Thursday night, after a three-week break, Alabama women’s basketball fell to the No. 7 Tennessee Lady Vols, 62-44. The Lady Vols snapped the Crimson Tide’s seven-game win streak.
It’s already a tall task to take on a top 10 team. It’s even tougher when a team hasn’t played in a while.
Alabama’s nonconference ended on Dec. 13 — seven days before it was supposed to. First, the game against Little Rock was canceled due to a flu outbreak within Little Rock’s program Then Alabama had issues with COVID-19 and canceled the game against Winthrop.
“It’s hard to simulate game speed,” Alabama head coach Kristy Curry said. “We’ve only had 11 bodies for two days of practice.”
With limited players, limited practice time and limited in-game action, the Crimson Tide moved onto the next game on the schedule: the Lady Vols.
The rust showed in the first quarter of the matchup. Alabama missed their first four shots of the game. Tennessee took full advantage of this and jumped out to a 4-0 lead.
Guard JaMya Mingo-Young scored the Crimson Tide’s first bucket of the game by making a three-pointer. That cut the Lady Vols’ lead down to just one point, but Tennessee found a way to extend their lead.
The Lady Vols outscored the Crimson Tide 19-9 in the final four minutes of the first quarter. As a team, Alabama shot 33% from two-point range during the first ten minutes of the game.
Alabama had a crucial second quarter. They found their shots and outscored Tennessee 12-7.
The Crimson Tide also found some rhythm defensively. Alabama rebounded five times and forced six turnovers and two steals. The Crimson Tide did this without one of its star players, guard Megan Abrams. Abrams left the game with a mouth injury.
The game was within reach going into the second half. Alabama took the early advantage in the third quarter.
The Crimson Tide held the Lady Vols scoreless for the first 6:37 of the third quarter and jumped out to an 8-0 run to tie and earn their first lead of the game. Guards Brittany Davis and Hannah Barber combined for all eight points.
An old-fashioned three-point play from Tennessee guard Kaiya Wynn gave the Lady Vols the lead again, but a successful free throw attempt by Mingo-Young and a layup from Davis gave Alabama the lead.
A once dominant display by the Lady Vols quickly turned into a tough battle.
Both squads exchanged blows late in the third quarter. When the third frame ended, Tennessee led 38-37. It looked like it would be an exciting final 10 minutes. And it was for the Tennessee fans in attendance at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Similar to the first quarter, Alabama couldn’t buy a shot. The Crimson Tide went three-for-20 from two-point range in the final 10 minutes. Alabama missed every three-point attempt and suffered without Abrams’ shot-making ability in the final 10 minutes.
“If you don’t make shots in the league and you don’t finish plays, you’ll have a hard time winning,” Curry said.
Tennessee, on the other hand, found their rhythm on both sides of the court. The Lady Vols outscored the Crimson Tide 24-7 in the fourth quarter. Tennessee also had eight defensive rebounds to Alabama’s two in the fourth along with five blocks and three steals.
Those steals and rebounds turned into seven fastbreak points for Tennessee.
Despite their best effort, Alabama couldn’t make enough shots to win. The Crimson Tide finished the game 17-for-71 from two-point range and five-for-29 from three-point range.
“They [Tennessee] were able to make plays that we weren’t and credit [to] Tennessee for making shots,” Curry said.
Alabama will need to shake this loss off quickly. The Crimson Tide will host the Auburn Tigers at Coleman Coliseum on Sunday at 4 p.m. CT. The game will be shown on SEC Network.