In its first two games in the SEC Tournament, Alabama had relied heavily on driving to the basket and the ability to throw the ball for a high three percentage. Friday, the blows did not fall early for Alabama.
No. 11 seed Alabama was unable to maintain its winning streak throughout the SEC tournament as No. 3 seed Tennessee dominated the quarterfinal game from start to finish, handing Alabama the 74-59 loss.
The Lady Volunteers were locked in defensively to open the game. Alabama takes on two of the SEC’s leading scorers in Brittany Davis and Megan Abrams, and Tennessee kept the duo to just one point between the two in the first quarter. An 0-on-7 shooting performance from beyond the arc throughout the first period held Alabama to just five points, as the Lady Volunteers took a solid 15-5 lead.
Tennessee brought physical defense, frustrating Alabama throughout the first half. Alabama head coach Kristy Curry disagreed with some of the no-calls as the Crimson Tide headed for the edge, and she voiced that opinion in the second quarter.
At 5:12 of the second quarter, Curry received a technical foul for tweeting at the referee as Davis may have been hacked at the wheel. Two minutes of playing time later, JaMya Mingo-Young was hit with a loose ball situation, and Curry was at half court to question the no-call. This warranted another technical on the Alabama head coach, and she was ejected from the game before halftime.
Following Curry’s departure, Davis scored her first two buckets of the game after being held scoreless for the first 18 minutes of the game. It gave Crimson Tide a boost before the break, but the deficit was deep as the Lady Volunteers led 34-20.
Alabama started to score the ball more effectively in the third, but Tennessee managed to score the ball in transition. That, coupled with a rebounding advantage, kept the Crimson Tide out of reach, and the Lady Volunteers led a 9-0 run late in the third to help extend their lead to 56-37 heading into the final period.
Alabama outscored the Lady Volunteers 22-18 in the fourth, but the effort wasn’t enough to make up the deficit. The Crimson Tide finally hit the mark from long range, scoring three of their five total buckets from beyond the arc in the final quarter.
Abrams still managed to score 19 points in the game, putting up an impressive three games in Nashville. She was emotional at the postgame press conference as she thought back to all that Alabama had given her, knowing she would never be able to dress for the Crimson Tide again.
Allie Craig Cruce also put on a great game scoring the ball with 12 points in his third straight start.
Davis, who shot 5-for-6 of three Thursday night, was 0-for-7 as Tennessee struggled to stifle its shooting effort. Overall, the Crimson Tide shot 18.7 percent from three-point range, which kept Alabama out due to Tennessee’s scoring consistency. The rebounding advantage for the Lady Volunteers was 43 to 30, as they failed to provide Alabama with many additional possessions.
In the end, Tennessee managed to dismantle the Crimson Tide run in this SEC tournament. Alabama will now await selection for the NCAA Tournament, although the outlook is bleak following the resounding loss.