Tide heads to Little Rock

Tide heads to Little Rock

The Crimson Tide is seeded No. 14 in the SEC tournament and will play Vanderbilt. CW | Layton Dudley

After a disappointing SEC regular season, the Alabama women’s basketball team is now at the win-or-go-home stage. With an SEC record of 2-14, the Crimson Tide was seeded last in the SEC tournament. With this standing, the only way Alabama can qualify for the NCAA tournament is to win the tournament and receive an automatic bid. The first opponent Alabama will play is No. 11-seed Vanderbilt in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Wednesday night at approximately 8:30 p.m. CT, 25 minutes after Auburn and Florida play.

“Obviously we are a little disappointed in how things went with our conference season, but I’ve always been a big believer that when you have something like that happen to you, you can either let it destroy you, define you or strengthen you,” coach Kristy Curry said.

The last time Alabama played Vanderbilt was back in January in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide was in the ballgame until the end, but the Commodores came away with a 55-52 victory.

“We got down 15-1 to start the game, which is amazing to fight and claw back like we did,” Curry said. “I think that both teams are in similar situations. They’ve been able to win a few more close games than we have. I know I’m excited to be able to play Vanderbilt.”

Both teams have had similar seasons. Alabama’s -2.4 point differential is just a little better than Vanderbilt’s -3. Vanderbilt finished with 14 total wins, five of which were in the SEC, while Alabama had 13 wins. Both teams are very young with only four upperclassmen on each team.

Alabama is missing one of its seniors, guard Sharin Rivers. Rivers tore her ACL on senior night, ending her career. Rivers's absence could hurt Alabama’s chances of advancing. If Alabama defeats the Commodores, it will have to play No. 12 Kentucky on Thursday.

“Any time you are picked last or seen last or you’re the outsider or that kid that no one wants to succeed, that should motivate you,” junior forward Nikki Hegstetter said. “We are just there to prove that the standings are wrong.”

All games leading up to the semifinals will be aired on SEC Network. The semifinals will be Saturday on ESPNU, and the championship will be Sunday on ESPN.

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