GAINESVILLE, Fla. – That Alabama’s women’s basketball team lost by an 80-72 score against Florida (ranked 22nd in one poll, 23rd in another) doesn’t begin to tell the story. Playing at the O’Connell Center Thursday night, the Crimson Tide overcame a 21-point deficit, only to see the Gators pull back in front and win the game with a 15-3 run in the final 6:17 of the game.
Alabama fell to 13-6 this year, including a 2-4 record in Southeastern Conference play. Florida improved to 16-3 overall, 4-2 in the conference.
Next up, Bama heads to Nashville for a rematch with Vanderbilt. The game is slated to tip off at 6 p.m. CST Monday. Bama fell by 54-48 in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 10.
Sophomore Meoshonti Knight scored a career-high 23 points, while freshman Shaquera Wade chipped in a career-best 13 points. Joining the two in double figures for the Tide were sophomores Hannah Cook with 16 and Quanetria Bolton with 11.
“You do everything you can to get a basket,” said Alabama Coach Kristy Curry. “You’ve just got to make shots. I thought they were a lot tougher and better conditioned down the stretch. Everybody is going to talk about how we competed and played hard, but I am tired of that. At the end of the day they’ve got to find ways to make plays and wins games, and we are not getting that from certain spots. We’ve got to continue to go to our bench and come back and whoever is playing well is who we are going to go with.”
At the end of the first quarter, the Gators had used a 9-0 run to lead 21-10. Bama scored the final six points of the second quarter, but still trailed 41-36 at halftime. The Tide rallied in the third quarter and it was 61-61 going to the fourth period. Bama took an early lead, but Florida was stronger down the stretch and got the win.
“We tried to go in at halftime and coach and explain to them that we were getting outrebounded and try to make some adjustments, but at the end of the day it is their energy and effort,” said Curry. “I don’t think at that point it is about coaching. It is more about character. We changed our starting lineup and came back out the second half and obviously got off to a better start in the third quarter than we did to begin the game.”
For the game, Alabama shot 47.3 per cent (26-55), while Florida finished 54.2 per cent (32-59) from the floor. The Gators outrebounded the Tide, 40-25, and Alabama connected on only 16 of its 31 attempts from the free throw line.