Women’s basketball loses fourth straight in SEC Tournament opener

Will Miller, Staff Reporter

The Alabama women’s basketball team saw its time in the SEC Tournament end sooner than it would have liked. The sixth-seeded Crimson Tide (20-10, 9-8 SEC) lost its fourth straight game against the 14-seed in the bracket on Thursday. The Kentucky Wildcats, winners of just two conference games in the regular season, got their revenge for a Feb. 9 loss in a 71-58 victory. 

Alabama led through three quarters, taking a 45-44 lead into the final frame, but the Wildcats used a 27-13 fourth quarter to pull away and seal the unlikely upset victory.  

“I thought [Kentucky] did a phenomenal job defensively, being disruptive,” Alabama head coach Kristy Curry said. “It’s the time of year where players have to step up and make plays, and I certainly thought their kids stepped up.” 

A career day from Kentucky’s Jada Walker saw her score 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting. She was the difference maker, helped by a high-impact second half from Maddie Scherr, who had 19 points. 

The Wildcats’ defense managed to hold dynamic Alabama guard Brittany Davis to single digits, and only Aaliyah Nye scored in double figures for the Crimson Tide. She had 15 points and a trio of three-pointers. 

Nye said the momentum changed in the third quarter when turnovers began to seriously plague the Crimson Tide. Alabama had 19 turnovers in Thursday’s game. 

The Wildcats took the lead two minutes into the final quarter. Kentucky led in the early moments of the game and stormed back in the third quarter from a 10-point hole to tie it up, but once the lead shifted in the last 10 minutes, it did not change again. 

“Their momentum got to them because they made us turn the ball over and they were scoring off our turnovers,” Nye said.  

The Wildcats had 22 points off of turnovers in the game, compared to just nine for Alabama. Alabama did win the rebounding category 36-31, but the turnovers and a 10% conversion rate from the free throw line reduced the overall effect of the rebounding margin on the outcome of the game. 

The Crimson Tide is projected to be in the NCAA Tournament field come Selection Sunday on March 12, but four consecutive losses is far from an ideal stretch, especially in a timeframe that includes the close of the regular season and the conference tournament. 

“I think [we] have to stay together and have confidence that we’re a good basketball team,” said Alabama guard Sarah Ashlee Barker. “We’ve had some slippage the last couple of games. … It’s the things that we know we can control. I think that’s a positive thing, [that] we can control it- but we’ve lost four straight. We’ve got to get to it.” 

With no more games left to play before Selection Sunday, the Crimson Tide will not learn its postseason fate or opponent until March 12. The NCAA Tournament selection show will be at 7 p.m. CT and will be aired on ESPN. 

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