DULUTH, Ga. – Sophomore Ericka Russell scored a career-high 30 points in a heartbreaking 73-66 loss to No. 22/24 Georgia in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.
The Crimson Tide finishes the season with an overall record of 12-18, while the Lady Bulldogs improve to 23-7 on the season. "I thought we were well prepared coming into this game," said head coach Wendell Hudson. "We made a couple of adjustments since the last time we played them in terms of attacking the basket and making (Ashley) Houts work hard. We also altered the way we approached the zone defense. I thought both teams played extremely hard, and either team could have walked away with the win."
Joining Russell in double figure points for Alabama was junior Tierney Jenkins with 15 and senior Dedrea Magee with 10. Sophomore Carmen McCoy pulled down 10 rebounds to lead the Tide on the glass, while junior LaToya King dished out a game-high six assists. Alabama opened the game on a 7-2 run with all of the Tide's points coming from Russell during that stretch. From there, Georgia went on to outscore Alabama by 10 points over the next nine minutes to take the 21-11 lead. The Tide cut the Lady Bulldog advantage down to two with 7:54 to play in the half as Russell knocked down her second three-pointer of the game.
Nearly 90 seconds later, Russell connected on another shot from long range putting Alabama on top once again. The Tide lead wouldn't last long as Georgia finished the half on a 6-2 run for the 29-26 edge. Lady Bulldog senior Angel Robinson got the scoring started in the second half with just 11 seconds off the clock to give her team a five-point lead. Alabama and Georgia would trade buckets for the next several minutes with the Tide unable to get a defensive stop to pull any closer until Russell's fourth three-pointer cut the deficit to two.
On the next possession, Russell drove straight to the hoop and laid it in tying the game at 50-50 with 8:43 to play. Alabama would take its first lead of the half moments later when Jenkins buried a jumper at the 7:22 mark. The Tide either led or was tied with the Lady Bulldogs for the next three minutes. A jumper by junior Porsha Phillips gave Georgia the one-point edge, but Russell would respond as she had all game drilling her fifth three-pointer to put Alabama up 63-61 with 3:51 to play. The Lady Bulldogs held the Tide scoreless over the next 3:20 while building up a four-point buffer. Sophomore Meredith Mitchell would come up big for Georgia down the stretch hitting all eight of her free throws. For the game, Alabama shot 41.0 percent from the floor, while the Lady Bulldogs hit 40.0 percent of their attempts.