After the first horn sounded to begin the Alabama-Missouri women’s basketball game on Sunday, the Crimson Tide starters didn’t move. Instead they stayed huddled, arms around one another talking about what was to come right after the tip. It took an official to break them up.
The 65-56 loss to Missouri was a game that UA really wanted. Now coach Kristy Curry’s team will have to wait for the result of Sunday’s Ole Miss game to see if it will get a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament.
“To be focused and come out to a good start, and not give up big leads like we have in the past,” Alabama guard Jordan Lewis said was the message in the pregame huddle.
Alabama’s sense of of urgency showed early. Curry turned up the press early in the first quarter to try and force Missouri into some turnovers, while Meoshonti Knight and Lewis wasted no time attacking the rim on the offensive end. Unfortunately for UA, the looks from the inside were not dropping.
Similar to the Crimson Tide’s game against Missouri in January, it was Quanetria Bolton who sparked Alabama on offense in the second quarter.
“She’s just one of our better shooters,” Curry said. “You can go back and look over time at the consistency too. She shoots it so well from the free-throw line and at times she has led our team in the percentage there.”
Bolton, who usually comes off of the bench, started the game and scored nine first-half points, including the only 3-point baskets for Alabama in that span. Her 13 points led the team against the Tigers.
The usually efficient Missouri had to get creative to find its offense for three quarters. The Tigers shot only 34 percent from the floor through 30 minutes, but managed to keep pace with Alabama by grabbing 11 offensive rebounds that translated to 11 second-chance points.
Those points made a huge difference in the final segment, because Missouri was finally able to finds its groove on offense, knocking down four 3-point shots to score 23 fourth quarter points. Alabama couldn’t recover.
A bright spot in the disappointment for the Crimson Tide was freshman Ashley Knight. She had four blocks against Missouri to tie Yolanda Watkin’s single-season blocks record at 68 before heading to the SEC Tournament.
“It’s a great honor for her, and she’s done a great job,” Curry said. “It has given us a different dimension inside. It allows us to overplay on the perimeter and be able to pressure more because we have great help waiting there that will be able to change things at the rim.”