Women’s basketball opens season in style against Samford

After an early end to last season, Alabama women’s basketball is back. In its 2020 opener, the team turned their gratitude for the season into on-court energy.


Courtesy of Alabama Athletics

Alabama women’s basketball (1-0) turned heads in a 83-68 victory against Samford (0-1) Wednesday. 

An Uncommon Matchup 

This was only the tenth time these two teams have faced each other. Currently, Alabama has a 8-2 record against the Bulldogs, with the Crimson Tide just snapping a two-game losing streak. The last matchup was in November of 2008, with the Bulldogs getting the victory, 61-55. 

In the last twelve years, Samford won a Southern Conference tournament and snagged a NCAA tournament bid. Alabama finished the season 18-12, just missing the opportunity for a NCAA tournament bid last year. These two teams have faced off seven times in home openers, with Alabama winning all seven games. 


The COVID-19 pandemic caused sports all around the world and at all levels to take indefinite hiatuses. Alabama women’s basketball ended their season on a sour note and looks forward to changing that this season. 

Alabama wants to reach the NCAA tournament, something the Crimson Tide hasn’t done since 1999. But the team understands how fortunate they are to be able to play this season. In a zoom press conference on Tuesday, point guard Jordan Lewis discussed the gratitude the team has for being able to play. 

“I think most of us are just being thankful for the opportunity,” Lewis said. “A lot of teams still aren’t getting to play. A lot of things are getting cancelled. And so, you know, I just think just knowing you have the opportunity to continue to play the sport you love and just having that motivation for doing something, in this time, is rare.”

Lewis stressed that the team must take advantage of the opportunities in front of them. While the team is ultimately grateful for the chance to finally play a game, the team is excited to win, as forward Jasmine Walker stated in the zoom press conference Tuesday.

“It’s an amazing feeling being that we get to play, you know, somebody different other than your own teammates and stuff. So I feel like everybody’s excited and ready to go, and we’re always looking to win,” Walker said. “Alabama fans should be watching for a refreshed and rejuvenated team, seeking to finish what COVID had ended in March.”

Both Sides of the Ball

A team does not win 18 games in collegiate basketball without being talented on both sides of the ball. The Bulldogs seek to challenge the perimeter shooting of the Crimson Tide early this season with their 1-2-2 zone defense. In a zoom press conference on Tuesday, head coach Kristy Curry discussed the challenge of preparing for Samford’s defense. 

“We know they’re gonna play 1-2-2 zone, which is hard to simulate because we don’t play that way and neither do our practice guys, so, we’ve been preparing for that for the last week and a half,” Curry said. 

Earlier in the press conference, Curry stated that she is looking forward to how the team executes the game plan. A 1-2-2 zone defense is particularly weak in the middle and post, so fans should also watch for the ways Alabama will exploit that vulnerability. 

In a sports-packed week at the University, the women’s basketball team has created a buzz about them around Tuscaloosa, and the Crimson Tide is looking to live up to that. 

The Recap

Alabama put on an offensive clinic Wednesday afternoon in Coleman Coliseum, capturing a season-opening win against Samford. 

Today was really good for us,” head coach Kristy Curry said after the game. I really am proud of our effort and the fact that we won the game.”

Alabama came out of the gate strong scoring 28 points and having a 10-point advantage at the end of the first quarter. The Crimson Tide offense carried a steady pace, scoring 19 and 11 points in each of the next two quarters and capping the game off with 25 points in the fourth quarter. 

Senior forward duo Jasmine Walker and Ariyah Copeland carried the Alabama offense, scoring 40 of 83 total points. Four of Walker’s nine field goals came behind the three-point arc, allowing her to finish with 22 points. Copeland scored inside the paint and finished the day  shooting 88.9%. 

The Alabama offense as a whole made 31 of 63 shot attempts. Walker was not the only one to score three-pointers for Alabama. The team got contributions from four other players and the team finished 11-27 behind the arc.

I loved our offensive output,” Curry said. “I loved how we spread the ball around.”

Alabama’s starting five did not have the pressure of having to do everything for the team as it received contributions from the bench. The Alabama bench scored 15 points, which was more than the Samford bench. 

Heading into the season it was a point of emphasis to improve upon the amount of second chance points given up as it came back to hurt the team in close games last season. Alabama put its best foot forward in this area combining for more second chance points, 17-13, than Samford.

Come conference play and the postseason, it will be important for Alabama to capitalize at the free throw line. Alabama showed composure at the free throw line in its season opener, going 10-11. 

One of Alabama’s most unexpected contributions on the court came from junior guard Hannah Barber. Barber went 3-for-3 on the court, scored eight points, collected six rebounds and had four assists. But it wasn’t just the numbers Barber put up that caught the audience’s attention; it was the way she was able to take charge and settle down the offense. 

Two of the keys for Alabama’s success Wednesday afternoon was effort on the defensive end. Alabama outrebounded, 37-34, and created more turnovers, 13-7, than Samford. 

But Alabama must improve on its three-point defense moving forward. The defense surrendered 10 three-pointers to the Bulldogs and tallied 47.6% shooting from three-point range.

“We obviously need to defend and rebound better,” Curry said. 

Senior forward Jordan Lewis is a player Alabama’s opponents will have their eye on throughout the remainder of the season as she has played a big part of Alabama’s offense in the past. Samford did its homework heading into the game. The Bulldogs were able to contain Lewis, who only scored eight points and was 2-for-10. Lewis will have to learn how to evolve her game to continue to be a key contributor to the offense. 

Alabama will return to Coleman Coliseum afternoon, Nov. 29, and compete against the Houston Cougars. The game can be streamed on SEC Network and on the ESPN app.