Frustrating season ends

BOSTON -- The Alabama basketball season came to a merciful end Friday night in Boston, Mass., as the Crimson Tide dropped a heartbreaking 67-62 decision to Indiana.

The Tide led by 11 going into halftime and seemed poised to make an unexpected run into the second round, but the Hoosiers captured some of the magic that took them to the finals of the NCAA Tournament last season to get the victory.

"As a team we know how to fight," Indiana forward Jeff Newton said. "I thought we played hard in the second half. We got back into the game. We know that the game is never over. We know how to fight."

For Alabama seniors Erwin Dudley, Kenny Walker and Terrance Meade, the loss ends an illustrious playing career that saw one SEC Championship, two NCAA appearances and 69 wins in the past three years alone. Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said he was proud of his team despite coming up just short.

"I'm disappointed," Gottfried said. "It hurts. I thought we played really hard. I thought we played with so much desire."

Indiana came out in the second half much more aggressive than the Tide, forcing Alabama into foul trouble early. The Tide had already picked up its seventh team foul with 14:01 still remaining to put the Hoosiers in the bonus for the rest of the game.

Indiana attempted 26 free throws in the game while Alabama had 16. Both teams mentioned the officiating after the game.

"We lost our aggressiveness," Gottfried said. "There were a lot of fouls called and I think it affected how aggressive we were. But that's part of the game."

Indiana coach Mike Davis said he wanted his players to come out in the second half and put pressure on the Tide defense. His players responded, attacking Alabama rather than settling for mid-range jump shots and three-pointers as they had in the first half.

"I got on them pretty good at halftime," Davis said. "I just challenged them to come out and fight because Mark (Gottfried) had his team well-prepared. What we wanted to do was try to come out and try to get Dudley and Walker in foul trouble."

The plan worked, as Dudley was forced out of the game with 14:28 to play after picking up his third foul.

The second half also saw a different defensive strategy from the Hoosiers as Davis decided to double team Dudley every time he touched the ball.

In the first half, Davis left his big men -- 6-foot-11 George Leach and 6-foot-9 Jeff Newton -- to cover Dudley alone. The reigning SEC player of the year took advantage, scoring 11 points on 5-of-11 shooting.

In the second half, with four arms in his face each trip down the court, Dudley attempted just four field goals, connecting on two. He ended the night with 18 points and nine rebounds.

"They knocked down some big shots," Dudley said. "We just didn't guard them as well down the stretch."

Alabama sophomore Mo Williams played like a true leader, leading all scorers with 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting, including several key baskets from behind the arc.

He had one final attempt to tie the game with 11.9 seconds to play, but the shot went long, ending the Tide's game and season.

"It was a good shot," Williams said. "I hit one just before that on a similar play. I felt like I could make it, I just rushed it a little."

Indiana moves on to play the Pittsburgh Panthers in the second round on Sunday. Alabama will have to wait until next season to make any more statements on the court.

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