The Alabama women’s basketball team was missing two of its offensive weapons in the regular-season opener, but the Crimson Tide (1-0) wasn’t short on points.
Despite sitting sophomore Jordan Lewis and senior Quanetria Bolton with ankle injuries, Alabama cruised its way to a 90-32 victory over over Alabama A&M on Friday night at Coleman Coliseum.
The Lady Bulldogs struggled with the Crimson Tide’s press. Just 1:37 had run off the clock before Alabama A&M pushed the ball past half-court line, and the Lady Bulldogs sunk into an early 11-0 hole. Alabama’s defense forced 31 turnovers; Impressive, especially when considering the absence of Lewis, a player with over 50 steals last season.
“(The press) is who we want to be,” Alabama coach Kristy Curry said. “We’ve completely defensively tried to switch gears because of the depth on this team, and the size, and the athleticism. That’s our identity. We want to be able to change our defenses effectively.”
It was equally lopsided when Alabama was on the offensive end. Despite battling some turnovers of its own, the Crimson Tide shot 43 percent from the field and 75 percent from the free-throw line.
“We have got to make our free throws consistently,” Curry said. “It’s something we’ve worked really hard on. It’s the way we’ve designed practices. If you miss the first one you have got to make the second one.”
Freshman Ariyah Copeland turned heads in her Crimson Tide debut. The forward’s 16-point, 15-rebound double-double is the first of the season for the Crimson Tide, and a performance that sets the bar high for the remainder of the year. She did it all while playing just 21 minutes.
“I plan on being really effective that way in every game, especially since (Bolton) is out, and she is one of our most effective players for us,” Copeland said. “I shouldn’t settle because I’m a freshman. I want to be able to help my team out just as much as she does.”
Unlike Copeland, the most experienced player on the team, fifth-year senior Ashley Williams, was able to build on her strong finish last season with a 16-point, six-rebound performance. The senior’s career-high 29 points also came against Alabama A&M back in 2014.
The dominant win brings Alabama to 12-0 all-time against Alabama A&M, and enlarges the Crimson Tide’s average margin-of-victory over the Lady Bulldogs to 29.2 points.
Alabama plays Utah in Coleman Coliseum on Monday night.