One of the few bad things about college basketball is that there are officials who insert themselves into the story. The decision as to whether contact between an offensive and defensive player is a charge or a block has long been inconsistent.
In Foster Auditorium Thursday night, an official’s decision may have been the difference between Alabama having an outstanding win or a heart-breaking loss against 10th-ranked Texas A&M.
The visiting Aggies led by a point with nine seconds to play. Alabama Coach Kristy Curry drew up a play, the Tide got the ball to Karyla Middlebrook, and she drove the lane and made the basket. Enter the official who waved off the basket and ruled that Middlebrook had been guilty of a charge. Moments later Texas A&M wrapped up a 59-56 win with a pair of free throws.
Indeed, free throws were important in the game as the visiting Aggies made 11-18, Bama just 7-12.
“That’s a tear-filled locker room that I just left,” said Alabama Coach Kristy Curry. “One that I have a lot of respect and love for and a lot of appreciation because I thought they played their hearts out tonight to the No. 10 team in the country. I can say this: this program is headed in the right direction. It’s a tribute to the character in that locker room.”
Alabama is now 13-8 overall and 2-6 in Southeastern Conference games. Texas A&M improved to 15-5 overall and 5-2 in the league.
Alabama heads to Knoxville to take on No. 19 Tennessee at 2 p.m. CST Sunday. The SEC Network will televise the game.
For the game, Alabama shot 23-for-52 (44.2 percent) and grabbed 28 boards. The Aggies were 22-of-57 (38.6 percent) from the floor but hauled in 41 rebounds, including holding a 17-8 advantage on the offensive glass.
Sophomore Quanetria Bolton totaled a game-high 16 points, the most she has scored against a conference opponent in her career, and Middlebrook finished with 15. Bolton was also the Tide’s leading rebounder with five.
Senior Jordan Jones paced Texas A&M 15 points.
“Our crowd is doing a phenomenal job of being a great basketball crowd and making this the toughest home court advantage in the SEC,” added Curry. “For that, our team just wants to thank them. We always look forward to being home. We’ve got games coming up here against Ole Miss and Auburn in the same week. We hope everyone will come back out and support us.”