GREENVILLE, S.C. – The Alabama women’s basketball team used a big second half, outscoring Tennessee by 15, on its way to a 72-64 win in the second round of the Southeastern Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament on Thursday at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.
Alabama (19-12) will face No. 4 seed Kentucky in the quarterfinals, which will be the Tide’s first appearance in the SEC tournament quarterfinals since 2005. Alabama’s 19 wins are also the most it has had in a season since the 2001-02 campaign.
“I’m just really proud of our team today,” said Alabama head coach Kristy Curry. “I thought that our energy and effort is something that’s always within our control. I knew at halftime and told them if we could hold them to 29 the second half, we weren’t going to shoot it as bad as we did the first half. Thankfully we made some shots, had confidence in each huddle and had some balance offensively.”
Alabama had five finish in double-figures, led by Meoshonti Knight with 16 points. She was joined by Shaquera Wade, who had 12, while Ashley Williams, Ashley Knight and Jordan Lewis added 10 apiece. Knight had a team-high 11 rebounds for her second double-double, in addition to six blocks, while Lewis tied her career-best in assists with eight.
“Ashley (Knight) really learned a lot from the first experience with Tennessee,” added Curry. “She really took some things to heart and came out and did a great job. Meo (Knight) had a tremendous day.”
The Lady Vols were led by redshirt junior Mercedes Russell, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds.
The Lady Vols outscored the Tide 13-3 over an eight-minute span in the second quarter to lead by nine, 27-18. The two teams traded baskets over the final two minutes in the half, but it was Knight with the final bucket to cut the deficit to seven, 29-22, as time expired.
Tennessee came out in the third and scored five of the first seven points to take its first double-digit lead of the game. Alabama began its run, outscoring Tennessee 19-5 to end the quarter to take a 43-39 lead.
The Tide continued to lead throughout the fourth quarter responding with crucial baskets each time the Lady Vols scored. Over the final 43 seconds, Alabama made 9 of 12 free throw attempts to seal the victory.
For the game, Alabama shot 42.4 percent (25-59), while Tennessee finished at 35.8 percent (24-67) from the floor. The Tide outrebounded the Lady Vols, 44-31, and outscored Tennessee, 15-7, in second chance points.