ATHENS, Ga. | The No. 5 University of Alabama gymnastics team lost to No. 8 Georgia in Stegeman Coliseum on Saturday afternoon, 197.500-196.950, in front of a sold-out crowd of 9,924.
The Crimson Tide (3-1, 3-1 in SEC) was led by Kim Jacob who scored a 39.250 to win her fourth consecutive all-around and shared top honors on the floor exercise with junior Diandra Milliner. Alabama's team total was its highest score of the season despite a sub-49 score on the uneven bars.
"We didn't perform to the best of our abilities tonight," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. "We got a little behind the eight ball on the uneven bars and they were on fire on vault. When that happens, we have to really buckle down on vault and while we did a good job, we didn't nail all our landings."
Alabama started off with a shaky uneven bars rotation, scoring a season-low 48.95. The Tide was led by junior Sarah DeMeo's 9.875.
A low score wasn't the only outcome of the Tide's first rotation. Senior Ashley Sledge was pulled out of the lineup after straining her shoulders on a handstand.
"We took Sledge out after the uneven bars," Patterson said. "We're very protective of her shoulders and when she finished bars and was holding them, I knew we'd hold her out the rest of the way."
Alabama scored a 49.375 on the vault behind 9.9s from sophomore Kaitlyn Clark, senior Marissa Gutierrez and junior Diandra Milliner. It was the Tide's second highest vault total of the season. The Bulldogs though held a commanding lead at the halfway point, after posting a 49.475 on vault and a 49.275 on the uneven bars.
"I didn't see all of Georgia's routines, but what I did see told me that they were on fire tonight," Patterson said. "I've said this before, from the time that coaching staff was hired, they had this meet circled in red on their calendar. We came in with a target on our backs."
Alabama had its best rotation on the floor exercise, scoring a season-best 49.475 behind career-high 9.95s from Milliner and Jacob and a 9.9 from Gutierrez. The Tide closed the meet with a 49.150 on the balance beam, paced by senior Ashley Priess' 9.875.
"Tonight the atmosphere was great and the environment was great," Patterson said. "I think It made some of our ladies a little nervous, and we're just going to have to learn how to handle that. We have a great chance to do just that next week when we go down to Gainesville."
Alabama remains on the road next weekend , traveling to Gainesville, Fla., to take on No. 1 Florida on Friday. UA returns home on Feb. 15 to take on the Auburn Tigers.