The Alabama women’s basketball team would be unrealistic to set its goal as the national title, but the Crimson Tide can be expected to work to delay as long as possible what is likely inevitable.
After all, Alabama is 13-18 this year and begins play in the Southeastern Conference Basketball Tournament on Wednesday as the league’s 14th seed. That’s 14th out of 14.
The Crimson Tide will take on 11th seed Vanderbilt (14-15) in the second game of Wednesday’s opening night at Verizon Arena in Little Rock. The first game begins at 6 p.m. CST with No. 12 Florida taking on No. 13 Auburn and the Tide-Vandy game is to start 25 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
Wednesday’s game will air on the SEC Network.
Wednesday’s game marks the 43rd between Bama and Vandy, dating back to 1978. Vanderbilt leads 30-12, including a 55-52 victory earlier this season in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 25. In last season’s meeting, the Crimson Tide snapped a 12 game losing streak to the Commodores and also picked up Alabama’s first win in Memorial Gym with the 66-62 victory.
The two have met four times in SEC tournament play, with each winning twice. They last met in the postseason on March 2, 2006, coincidentally in Little Rock, where Vanderbilt won, 84-62. The other three meetings came in 1985 (L, 85-87), 1984 (W, 83-73) and 1980 (W, 69-53).
Alabama closed out the regular season with a pair of close losses, falling 53-49 to Florida and 80-73 at Auburn. In Thursday’s game against the Gators, redshirt freshman Karyla Middlebrook finished with a team high 15 points and seven rebounds. Freshman Hannah Cook led the Crimson Tide offensively at Auburn with a season-high 24 points. She was joined in double figures by sophomore Ashley Williams (15) and freshman Quanetria Bolton (10).
The underclassmen have accounted for 76.2 per cent (1,412 of 1,853) of Alabama’s scoring and 56.2 per cent (662 of 1,178) of its rebounding this season.
Vanderbilt enters Wednesday’s game having lost five of its last six games, with the win coming in overtime at Florida, 76-75. Last time out, the Commodores dropped a 79-49 decision at Tennessee. Freshman Paris Kea led Vanderbilt with 18 points, while sophomore Marqu’es Webb added 10.
The Commodores rank second in the league in field goal percentage, hitting 45.3 per cent. They are also the top rebounding defense team with 31.4 board on the defensive glass. Freshman Rebekah Dahlman leads Vanderbilt in scoring, averaging 10.1 points per contest, while junior Morgan Batey is the team’s leader in rebounds at 5.1 boards per game.
Alabama’s last game against the Commodores was an oh-so-close loss, 55-52, with Khadijah Carter’s last-second three-point shot bouncing off the front of the rim. Bama needs to start a bit faster than in that game. The Tide missed its first 11 shots and Vanderbilt had a 16-point first half lead.