Alabama takes upset to Georgia Tech, 76-66


ATLANTA — Maybe things would have been better if women’s basketball played halves.

The University of Alabama women’s basketball team was stung by one bad quarter — the second — and lost in the quarterfinals of the Women’s NIT on Sunday, falling 76-66 to Georgia Tech.

The defeat ended Alabama’s season. The Crimson Tide finished 22-14, recording its best season win total since 1999.

The two teams were tied at 17-17 at the end of the first quarter but the Crimson Tide offense derailed in the second quarter while Georgia Tech used a strong inside offense to build a 17-point margin, outscoring UA 27-10 in the quarter to take a 44-27 lead at the half.

Alabama shot just 13 percent (two for 15) in the second quarter. Georgia Tech, powered by Elo Edeferioka in the paint, shot 65 percent (11 of 17).

“We missed a lot of shots that were not bad shots (in that quarter),” Alabama head coach Kristy Curry said. “We couldn’t finish around the rim. We get back to the locker room and look at the halftime stats and Coco (Knight), Meo (Knight) and Hannah (Cook) are 0-for-9 from the floor. We’re not going to have a strong half with an 0-for-9 from the 3 (small forward) position.”

The Yellow Jackets gradually built on that advantage, going ahead by as many as 24 points, 68-44, with just over eight minutes remaining. A frantic Alabama rally reduced that deficit to 10 points in the final minute but UA could come no closer.

The Georgia Tech post players led the Yellow Jacket offense. Edeferioka had 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Zaire O’Neil added 15 points and seven rebounds.

Shaquera Wade had 15 points to lead four Alabama scorers in double figures. JuniorĀ Ashley Williams had a double-double with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

Despite the loss, Curry, whose team posted a 5-2 postseason record in the SEC and WNIT tournaments, would “draw from our positives” in the strong March run.

“We’ve given our kids a jump start into the ’17-18 season,” Curry said. “This is our first time to win 20 games in 18 years. I am not sure if our freshmen were alive the last time that happened.

“We haven’t had anyone with that experience to show the new players how that’s done,” Curry said. “That’s been up to me and my staff. Now we have had this experience to build on.”

Alabama has no seniors on its roster and will add four players, including three transfers, to next year’s roster.