The Alabama women’s basketball team has been here before.
Last season the Crimson Tide missed out on an NCAA Tournament bid, but stormed its way to a 20-win season and the quarterfinals of the WNIT before losing on the road to Georgia Tech.
UA is in the same position now, but coach Kristy Curry’s team has already moved past the Yellow Jackets this postseason, and it will travel to a different ACC opponent for the quarterfinals this season. This time it’s Virginia Tech.
Who: Alabama at Virginia Tech
When: 1 p.m., Sunday
Where: Cassell Coliseum, Blacksburg, Va.
Records: Alabama 20-13, Virginia Tech 21-13
Radio: 93.3 FM
The Hokies were one spot ahead of Georgia Tech in the NCAA’s latest RPI rankings, and similar to UA, Virginia Tech has been searching for consistency all season. The scrappy bunch from the ACC has played Louisville within three points, but has also been on the wrong side of a 45-point blowout against Florida State, a game where it allowed 107 points.
If there’s one thing for certain, it’s Alabama cannot afford to give the Hokies a 17-point head start like it did against Georgia Tech. Virginia Tech’s offense ranks fifth in the ACC, falling behind top-seeded NCAA Tournament teams Louisville and Notre Dame, along with Florida State and Syracuse.
The Hokies are averaging more than eight 3-point makes per game, nearly double the number of shots the Crimson Tide averages from behind the arc. Should UA get behind, 3-point shooting could put the game out of reach quickly. Alabama went without a made 3-point shot in the round of 16 against the Yellow Jackets.
“We have grown a lot,” senior forward Ashley Williams said. “I think our biggest thing is that when we are down, we are able to come back. Our fourth quarters have been our best quarters this whole season.”
Alabama’s defense will need to be dialed in, and that starts with Williams on the inside. Only 6-feet tall, Williams will have her hands full with taller Virginia Tech post player Regan Magarity. Alabama’s fifth-year senior made her mark on defense last game, blocking one shot and getting two steals in the post.
Three players average double-digit points for Virginia Tech, and the team is scoring over 72 points per game this season.
“We got some big plays from deflections and getting some hands on some balls,” Curry said Thursday’s win over Georgia Tech. “When we can get easy baskets and get in the open floor that kind of gives you confidence.”
Auburn, UCF, Georgia Tech and NC State are all common opponents for Alabama and Virginia Tech this season. In four games against those opponents, the Hokies finished 3-1, while Alabama finished 3-2 in five games.
The trip to Blacksburg, Virginia, will be Alabama’s first road game of the WNIT. The Crimson Tide finished 6-5 on the road in the regular season.