One of the biggest problems for Chattanooga’s Lady Mocs so far in the first month of the basketball season has been slow starts where the opposing teams build leads that are simply too much to overcome.
That wasn’t the case on Sunday afternoon at McKenzie Arena, but the results were the same as Chattanooga fell to 1-8 overall with its sixth straight defeat in an 80-64 setback to the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Alabama improves to 8-2 with the win.
Chattanooga coach Katie Burrows felt good about the progress her team made in this latest game, but a change in defense and intense pressure on the basketball was simply too much for the youthful Mocs to handle.
“They went to an aggressive zone defense in the second half as they made some big adjustments and we just weren’t prepared for it,” Burrows said following the game.
“I thought we played really well in the first half as we took care of the ball and did a nice job of running our offense. We got some quality looks in the second half, but just weren’t able to knock down the shots.
“We took a lot of steps forward today, but we just tried to do too much in the second half and that hurt us. Alabama has a lot of weapons and it seems like it’s somebody different with every game.
“I’m really proud of the game Abbey Cornelius had today. She is doing all she can do as she tries to make things happen,” the coach said after her leading scorer finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds for her 10th career double-double.
Alabama coach Kristy Curry was just happy that her team could turn up the defensive pressure in the second half after the two teams finished the first half tied at 33.
“We were able to increase our defensive pressure to start the third quarter and just being aggressive paid off today,” Curry began, her record at Alabama now 141-120 in this her ninth season in Tuscaloosa.
“I was proud of our bench play and I thought we dominated the boards at times. We’ve had a wonderful weekend at Alabama and I want to congratulate coach Saban on a great win Saturday. We just wanted to do our part and I’m proud to finish a great weekend with a win,” Curry concluded with a smile.
The game was nip and tuck for the first quarter as there were six ties and four lead changes in the opening 10 minutes. Taylor Sutton scored the final four points in the last minute to give the Crimson Tide a 21-18 lead at the first break.
Amaria Pugh scored six straight points midway through the second period to put Chattanooga ahead 27-23 with 6:23 left before intermission while Dena Jarrells scored on a drive down the lane in the final minute to tie the score at halftime.
Cornelius sank two free throws and Pugh scored on a nice drive down the lane in the first minute of the second half for a 37-33 Chattanooga lead, but the momentum shifted and Alabama was able to finish the quarter on a 22-6 run for a 55-43 lead with one stanza remaining.
Alabama’s biggest lead of the game was 22 points at 68-46 following two free throws by Brittany Davis with 7:56 to play. Chattanooga had an 18-12 scoring edge the rest of the way, but that lead was too much to overcome.
JaMya Mingo-Young, who personally took over the game in the second as she scored 20 of her game-high 26 points by simply out-hustling everyone, was one of two Alabama players in double figures. Khyla Wade-Warren was next with 11.
Cornelius finished with 22 points to lead the Chattanooga scoring while Pugh finished with a dozen and Jarrells 11 points.
Alabama had a 42-31 rebounding advantage as Mingo-Young grabbed 11. Cornelius had 10 for the Mocs.
Alabama shot 47.5 percent from the field by sinking 29 of 61 shots while Chattanooga was 36.8 percent on 21 of 57 after starting the game six of 11 for 54.5 percent.
Chattanooga will be on the road for its next game at Eastern Kentucky on Thursday before returning home to face Cincinnati on Wednesday, Dec. 15.
ALABAMA 21 12 22 25 -- 80
CHATTANOOGA 18 15 10 21 -- 64
ALABAMA (80) – Rice 6, Abrams 9, Mingo-Young 26, Barber 5, Davis 9, Wade-Warren 11, Sutton 6, Gordon 8, Cruce, Daniel, Koang.
CHATTANOOGA (64) – Cornelius 22, Olafsdottir 4, Jarrells 11, Pugh 12, Hampel 3, McClendon 8, Porter 3, Murphy 1, Jones, Pene, Habling.
3-POINT GOALS: Alabama 3 of 18 for 16.7 percent; Chattanooga 5 of 18 for 27.8 percent.
FIELD GOALS: Alabama 29 of 61 for 47.5 percent; Chattanooga 21 of 57 for 36.8 percent.
FREE THROWS: Alabama 19 of 26 for 73.1 percent; Chattanooga 17 of 20 for 85.0 percent.
REBOUNDS: Alabama 42 (Mingo-Young 11, Gordon 7, Wade-Warren 6); Chattanooga 31 (Cornelius 10, Porter 5, Jarrells 4).
ASSISTS: Alabama 8 (Barber 3); Chattanooga 13 (Cornelius 4, Olafsdottir 3, Porter 3).
TURNOVERS: Alabama 10 (Abrams 2, Cruce 2); Chattanooga 11 (Jarrells 3, Pugh 3).
STEALS: Alabama 8 (Davis 4, Mingo-Young 2); Chattanooga none.
BLOCKS: Alabama 4 (Wade-Warren 2); Chattanooga 1 (Cornelius).
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)