Basketball Alabama Women’s Basketball Falls to No. 4 Mississippi State

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Five minutes into an important Southeastern Conference women’s basketball matchup with LSU, baskets were coming way too easy for the Crimson Tide. It didn’t take long for that to change, but Alabama’s players knew that transformation was coming.

LSU, one of the SEC’s defensive juggernauts, quickly got its defense back into form, but it wasn’t enough to stop an 11-0 fourth-quarter-run that helped Alabama defeat the Tigers, 65-51, Thursday night at Coleman Coliseum.

“I thought we were aggressive down the stretch,” said Alabama coach Kristy Curry. “I know in the first quarter we and had eight assists, and we didn’t have any in the second. I thought we were doing a lot of standing around and watching, but down the stretch we got aggressive.”

It was not pretty at times. Within the first 20 minutes, the Tigers and Crimson Tide combined for 19 turnovers, and grabbed, hacked and clawed their way to 19 personal fouls in the first half that were accompanied by whistles for deflected passes out of bounds. If it didn’t come on a fast-break, open looks were hard to find.


Where Alabama found some success, however, was inside. Post players Ashley Knight and Ashley Williams converted on nine of 13 shots to combine for 24 points that made up a big chunk of the Crimson Tide’s 32 points in the paint. The challenge was finding a path through the Tiger’s zone defense to pass the ball inside.

“One of our main goals was to try to get it into the post and work off of that,” Alabama senior Hannah Cook said. “I think they did a good job of denying it, but I thought (Ashley Williams), (Ashley Knight) and (Quanetria Bolton) did a good job of handling that, and we got it in.”

Alabama put together a 13-6 run coming out of halftime that reclaimed the lead, but the two teams stayed within one possession for much of the third quarter. The offensive spark started with Cook, who knocked down three 3-point baskets and scored a team-high 14 points.

Despite the offensive bump, LSU matched Alabama by continuously finishing mid-range jump shots that took away the shot-blocking abilities of the Crimson Tide bigs.

The Tigers’ leading scorers, Raigyne Louis and Chloe Jackson, were also the Tigers’ team-leaders in points against Alabama, but the Crimson Tide’s defense held them both below their season average in field-goal percentage. Jackson and Louis combined to shoot 11 of 32 and made just one basket from behind the arc.

“We had some players that have typically been really good with their percentages. I thought Jackson and Louis in particular have been two that have carried us,” LSU coach Nikki Fargas said. “But, we have to have more from everybody else when they are struggling.”

The win takes Alabama to a 3-1 conference start for the first time since the 1997-98 season and gives the Crimson Tide its third-straight win before taking on back-to-back Top 25 teams next week. The Tide is 13-4 overall.

“Down the stretch, I thought everybody really did their job,” Curry said. “So, I loved our toughness tonight. We have to defend our home court, that’s important. I’ve liked our growth from our first home game to tonight.”
 

UA Press Release

Official News Releases
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama women's basketball team (13-4, 3-1 SEC) heads to Starkville on Sunday for a matchup with No. 4/3 Mississippi State (18-0, 4-0 SEC). The game is scheduled to tip at 3 p.m. CT in Humphrey Coliseum.

THE BROADCAST
• Sunday's game will air on ESPNU with Tiffany Greene and LaChina Robinson on the call.
• The game can also be heard on the Crimson Tide Sports Network on 93.3 FM in Tuscaloosa with Roger Hoover on the broadcast.

OPENING TIP
• Alabama will be playing in its third Southeastern Conference road contest on Sunday when it takes on Mississippi State in Starkville. The Crimson Tide is 2-0 in league road games thus far.
• Last week, Alabama picked up its first win in Gainesville over Florida since 2010 with the 63-54 victory. Alabama then topped Arkansas in Fayetteville, 83-76, behind an 18-point performance from sophomore Jordan Lewis and 11-of-13 shooting from the line from senior Ashley Williams.
• The Tide is 3-1 in SEC play for the first time since the 1997-98 season.
• With its win over LSU on Thursday, Alabama has now won three consecutive SEC contests. The last time the Tide won three in a row against league foes was in 2010 (Florida, Auburn, Ole Miss).

SCOUTING ALABAMA
• Alabama enters Sunday's game with a 13-4 overall and a 3-1 mark in Southeastern Conference play.
• The Crimson Tide is led in scoring and rebounding by senior Ashley Williams, who averages 11.3 points and 6.9 boards per contest. Sophomore Jordan Lewis leads the way in assists with 3.9 per game.
• Sophomore Ashley Knight leads the team and ranks third in the SEC and 14th nationally in blocks per game with an average of 2.76. She is one block away from tying Dee Merriweather for the No. 2 spot in career blocks at Alabama (138) and 50 away from tying Yolanda Watkins (187) for most in program history.
• As a team, the Crimson Tide is averaging 69.5 points per game, 13.4 more than its opponents, and is outrebounding the opposition 42.8-36.6.
• After finishing the 2016-17 season last in the SEC in free throw percentage, Alabama has jumped up to sixth, hitting 71.7 percent of its attempts as a team.
• The Crimson Tide is averaging roughly 10 points more per game than its opponents in points in the paint (32.1-22.0) and bench points (25.9-16.8).
• In 15 of its 17 games this season, Alabama has had eight or more in the scoring column. In seven of those 15 games, 10 or more scored for the Crimson Tide.

SCOUTING MISSISSIPPI STATE
• Mississippi State is the lone undefeated team in the Southeastern Conference and heads into Sunday's game with an 18-0 record overall and a 4-0 mark against league opponents.
• The Bulldogs are led in scoring and rebounding by junior Teaira McCowan, who averages a double-double of 21.0 points and 12.7 rebounds per game. Senior Morgan William leads the way for MSU in assists with 4.6 per outing.
• As a team, Mississippi State averages 87.0 points per game, 30.9 more than its opponents, and 39.9 rebounds compared to 32.2 from the opposition.
• The Bulldogs are coached by Vic Schaefer, who is in his sixth season at the helm. Schaefer led MSU to the 2017 National Championship and was a finalist for the Naismith National Coach of the Year.
 

UA Press Release

Official News Releases
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Senior Hannah Cook finished the game with a career-high 25 points including shooting 5-of-5 from beyond the arc

STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Alabama women's basketball team fell to No. 4 Mississippi State, 75-61, on Sunday afternoon in Humphrey Coliseum.

With the loss, the Crimson Tide moves to 13-5 overall and 3-2 in Southeastern Conference play, while the Bulldogs remain perfect on the year at 19-0 and 5-0 in SEC competition.

Senior Hannah Cook finished the game with a career-high 25 points on 8-of-10 shooting, including going a perfect 5-of-5 from behind the three-point line. Cook's career day moved her up to No. 10 all-time in career scoring at Alabama with 1,280 career points in her four-year career with the Tide. Sophomore Jasmine Walker also chipped in 10 points while grabbing four rebounds and three steals.

The Tide hung tough with the Bulldogs in the first quarter, battling back from an early 11-4 deficit to tie the game at 16-16 with 1:23 left in the opening period after Cook drained back-to-back three-pointers. On the next possession, Cook netted her eighth-straight point with a layup to give UA the 18-16 advantage. With time winding down in the first quarter, senior Quanetria Bolton tipped in a missed jumper to put the Tide up 20-16 at the end of 10 minutes.

In the second quarter, the Bulldogs took control of the game by outscoring the Crimson Tide 28-9, to take the 44-29 advantage into halftime.

After halftime, Mississippi State continued to hold a double-digit lead in the second half, despite Alabama outscoring MSU 32-31 in the final 20 minutes of action.

Alabama shot 52 percent (22-of-42) from the field for the game and 77 percent (7-of-9) from beyond the arc in the loss.

The Tide will return to back home on Thursday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. CT to take on No. 17 Texas A&M in Coleman Coliseum. The game will air live on SEC Network+.