Jan. 31, 2016
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Alabama women’s basketball team dropped a 70-42 decision to No. 19/23 Tennessee on Sunday in Thompson-Boling Arena. With the loss, the Crimson Tide moves to 13-9 overall and 2-6 in the Southeastern Conference, while the win brings the Lady Volunteers to 13-8 on the season and 4-4 in league play.
“On a day like today you credit Tennessee,” said Alabama head coach Kristy Curry. “Obviously they had a tough week last week, and I thought they bounced back with an exclamation point. That speaks of their character and the coaching staff.”
Alabama and Tennessee traded baskets for much of the first, but it would be the Lady Volunteers holding a three-point edge, 15-12, at the break. Tennessee remained in front for the duration of the second and used an 8-0 run towards the end of the half for a 14-point lead, its largest of the game to that point, at 34-20. Alabama junior Breanna Hayden knocked down a pair of free throws for the final points of the quarter, setting the score at 34-22 in favor of the Lady Vols heading into the locker room.
Tennessee freshman Te’a Cooper hit a three-pointer to open scoring in the third before Alabama sophomore Meoshonti Knight countered with back-to-back baskets to cut the Tide deficit to 11 at the 7:57 mark. From there, the Lady Vols would score 10 unanswered points, nine of which came from Cooper, to take a 47-26 lead with 5:29 remaining in the quarter. Sophomore Hannah Cook knocked down a three to end the scoring drought 30 seconds later, which sparked a 9-4 run over the final 4:58. Tennessee would lead 51-35 going into the final quarter.
Alabama put up the first three points of the fourth, but the Lady Vols scored the next 17 straight to take a 30-point advantage with 2:17 to go. The Tide scored four of the last six points to cut the final margin to 28.
Knight led Alabama with 11 points and a team-high five rebounds. Tennessee was led by sophomores Jaime Nared and Mercedes Russell, who both finished with double-doubles of 17 points and 10 rebounds and 12 points and 13 rebounds, respectively. Cooper also had 17 points for the Lady Vols.
For the game, Alabama was 27.5 percent (14-51) from the floor, while Tennessee finished at 44.3 percent (27-61). The Lady Vols outrebounded the Tide, 47-26, and had 22 assists on their 27 made baskets.
“I think the game came down to a presence in the paint,” added Curry. “Credit their front line. I thought they were really, really good today on both ends of the floor. We just weren’t able to counter with bodies today. We will continue to work in recruiting and continue to get better.”
Alabama returns to Tuscaloosa for a pair of home games next week, hosting Ole Miss on Thursday at 6 p.m. CT and Auburn on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT. Both contests will take place at Foster Auditorium.
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