At least it wasn’t a lost night.
The Lady Vols erased any lingering possibility of the unthinkable against the SEC’s last-place team with a scoring spurt inside the final 10 minutes. It provided sufficient breathing room for a 74-67 women’s basketball victory before a Pink Zone crowd of 3,900 at Coleman Coliseum.
The outcome didn’t provide much in the way of solace, however.
“It’s an opportunity for our basketball team to take a look at who we are,’’ UT coach Pat Summitt said. “… We disrespected the game of basketball tonight.”
Alyssia Brewer, who started in place of Kelley Cain, scored a team-high 20 points for No. 5 Tennessee (24-2, 12-1 SEC). She also grabbed 10 rebounds. Shekinna Stricklen scored 14 points and Angie Bjorklund had 13
Freshman guard Celiscia Farmer made her first career start and scored a career-high 21 for Alabama (10-16, 2-11).
The Crimson Tide committed 24 turnovers, which resulted in a corresponding 27-14 Tennessee advantage in points off turnovers. That helped cover for the Lady Vols being outrebounded 45-33 and shooting 11 for 24 from the free throw line.
The Crimson Tide became just the second team to outrebound Tennessee this season (the other was No. 2 Stanford) and shot 45.9 percent from the floor, a season best by a UT opponent.
“We had a chance, if we had made some shots, to pull off something big,’’ Alabama coach Wendell Hudson said.
Tennessee came to Tuscaloosa without Cain, who stayed in Knoxville to attend classes. Alabama, on the other hand, began without its usual starting five, sending reserves Alyson Butler, Carmen McCoy, Katie Hancock, Tamara Williams and Farmer out for the opening tip.
“We were going to play who will play hard,’’ Hudson said. “That’s the group that was playing hardest in practice.”
Alabama’s new lineup played UT to standstill until the usual starters checked in with 14:14 left in the first half, establishing the rebounding dominance and shooting accuracy.
Tennessee, meanwhile, wasn’t establishing much of anything.