Women’s basketball opens conference season with close win over Georgia

Will Miller, Staff Reporter

Season two of the Alabama women’s basketball campaign started with a success, albeit a hard-fought one, on Thursday. The Crimson Tide beat Georgia by a final score of 56-53. In the process, Alabama won its first Southeastern Conference game of the 2022-23 season in tense fashion.  

The Crimson Tide (12-2, 1-0 SEC) has now pushed its ongoing winning streak to double digits with its 10th victory in a row. 

“It wasn’t pretty. Georgia makes you play ugly,” Alabama head coach Kristy Curry said. “We didn’t take care of the ball [in] the second half, but we made enough plays down the stretch. … I just thought we made plays, and that’s what really good teams do down the stretch.” 

The first quarter of the game started without much scoring, as the Bulldogs (11-4, 0-1 SEC) did not put points on the board for more than seven minutes until the end of the frame. Alabama, however, sparked a 14-0 run that culminated in a double-digit lead at the quarter break. The Crimson Tide maintained a sizable lead going into halftime. 

Alabama wasn’t shooting as well as it had in previous games, but Georgia did not counter this with perimeter makes of its own. The visitors did not connect from beyond the arc until more than five minutes had passed in the third quarter, the sole triple of the game out of 10 attempts. This was a key statistic — Alabama hit eight, and sharpshooter Hannah Barber logged half of those by herself.  

“There’s going to be moments in the game where you’re called on to step up and knock them down,” Barber said. “I think everybody on our team has done that whenever that time has come this season. … Having that mentality of being shot-ready on the catch is something that we really try to work on.” 

As the second half wore on, Georgia got back into things, first taking advantage of a third-quarter Alabama scoring drought to fight the deficit down to single digits. The Bulldogs used that drought to go on an 8-0 run. The Crimson Tide’s response wasn’t enough to maintain the double-digit lead at the start of the fourth quarter. 

The competitive final 10 minutes ended with the Crimson Tide still in front. Georgia came within a point more than once in the last minute, but Jada Rice hauled in a massive offensive board with 18 seconds left and was fouled, knocking down her free throws to extend the lead to three.  

Without much going for the Bulldogs from long range, a situation wherein the team was forced into this deficit wasn’t ideal. Ever-feisty Georgia drew an and-one with 15 seconds on the clock, but missed the free throw. The Bulldogs then missed a game-tying layup with less than 10 seconds to go.  

Brittany Davis, who led Alabama scorers with 17 points, took to the charity stripe after being fouled and hit one of two. Georgia had a final chance for the tie. The last person with the ball as time expired was none other than Bulldog transfer Sarah Ashlee Barker, playing against her former team for the first time. When all was spoken for, Alabama had gotten the job done to secure what could prove to be an important win going forward.  

“It was just a complete team effort,” Curry said. “Everyone has to be staying ready, and ready when their number is called, and stay together. It was an entire team effort.” 

New Year’s Day is next on Alabama’s schedule, which holds a trip up north to Knoxville for a showdown with one of the SEC’s premier programs in the Tennessee Lady Volunteers. Tipoff is set for 11 a.m. CT. 

Questions or comments? Email Blake Byler (Sports Editor) at [email protected]