Georgia’s 49-43 overtime win at Alabama on Thursday night was fast, gritty, and downright ugly at times, but that’s exactly what the Crimson Tide was expecting from the scrappy No. 19 Lady Bulldogs.
After baskets from seniors Quanetria Bolton and Meoshonti Knight in the final two minutes, Jordan Lewis made one of two free throws to give Alabama a two-point advantage with 16 seconds remaining. Georgia would miss its initial shot, but forward Caliya Robinson was there for the put-back to send the game into overtime tied 40-40.
The Lady Bulldogs allowed just three points in the overtime session, making all four free-throw attempts to earn the hard-fought victory.
“I don’t think you can fault the effort by either team tonight,” Alabama coach Kristy Curry said. “We just needed a stop tonight and we couldn’t get it. I thought we had the box-out, we’ll go back and watch that.”
For Alabama’s six seniors playing what could be their final game in Coleman Coliseum, it was a tough loss to take, but the experienced group did not disappoint.
Ashley Williams and Hannah Cook led Alabama in scoring and rebounding, combining for 22 points and 15 rebounds. Their senior counterparts, Knight and Bolton, made the crucial baskets and defensive stops in the final two minutes to keep Alabama even with Georgia.
“It hurt,” Knight said. “It’s our last game in (Coleman Coliseum), but, like coach said, we still have a long season ahead of us. We still have an opportunity (to make the NCAA Tournament). We still have a chance, so we still have that to look forward to.”
The effort on Thursday just wasn’t enough.
Nearly every trip down the floor in the first half was a full sprint, with each team giving the other extra possessions on out-of-control passes and careless dribbling. Minutes into the second quarter both coaches began to constantly peer toward the end of their bench for answers. It was clear that it was going to be that type of game.
When stoppages in play did happen, the players tried to squeeze every second out of the timeout to catch their breath. Hands grabbed the end of shorts, and a carousel of Crimson Tide substitutions kept Alabama at pace with the lightning-quick Lady Bulldogs. Despite UA shooting just 23 percent from the floor in the first half, Alabama and Georgia went to halftime tied at 20.
“I felt like I had to rest us, but would we have been more effeciently offensively? I’m not sure,” Curry said. “At the end of the day, you can’t shoot 23 percent overall and win very many games. That’s the bottom line.”
The low-scoring affair continued in the second half, and the Lady Bulldogs were able to put a lock on Alabama to begin the final segment. The Crimson Tide would not score for the first five minutes of the fourth quarter, quickly surrendering its three-point advantage.
Neither team scored double-digit points in the five overtime minutes, but the Crimson Tide’s poor shooting eventually caught up on the scoreboard. Alabama finished the game shooting 24 percent, and made just four of 20 shots from the 3-point line.
“Credit Georgia,” Curry said. “They are a Top 20 team for a reason, and they made plays down the stretch when we didn’t make enough.”
Georgia forward Mackenzie Engram scored a game-high 16 points for the Lady Bulldogs.