Disappointing Tide Season Ends In NIT

Alabama's attempt to prolong a disappointing season was cut short Tuesday night as UMass Minutemen guard Chris Lowe lofted a 14 foot jump shot in the lane with three seconds on the clock to win 89-87 in overtime in first round NIT play. Thus Bama's season, which began with such promise, ends with a record of 20-12.

Alabama had double disadvantages in the game. As has been the case in recent games, the Crimson tide had to play without its fine point guard, Ron Steele, who has been hampered all year with injuries. Additionally, Bama, the fifth seed in the NIT East bracket, had to go on the road for its first game to play fourth seed UMass at the Mullins Center located on the campus of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

Although Alabama led for much of the game, it took a near miracle for the Crimson Tide to get the game to overtime. trailing by three points at 83-80 and UMass shooting a free throw with just 5.5 seconds to play, Bama was in dire straits.

But the free throw was missed and Bama called time out with 4.5 seconds to play, allowing Tide Head Coach Mark Gottfried to set up a play for outside shooting star Mykal Riley.

Brandon Hollinger dribbled the length of the court and found Riley on the left side where he proceeded to loft a three pointer from beyond NBA range to tie the game 83-83 with no time showing on the clock.

In overtime, when Jermareo Davidson was fouled at the 3:08 mark by UMass star Stephane Lasme signaling his fifth foul. Davidson converted both free throws for the Tide's final lead at 85-84. Alabama would have seemed to have an advantage in the paint at that point, but the Tide squandered the opportunity with Davidson missing two forced shots.

Bama seemed to be hanging by a thread again, perhaps sending the game to a second overtime period, when Demetrius Jemison made a putback with 5.5 seconds to play to tie the game at 87-87.

But Bama ws unable to stop Lowe, who dribbled the length of the court and made a nice jumper with under two seconds to seal the victory for the co-champions of the Atlantic 10.

Alabama's aggressive offensive rebounding in the first half produced 17 second chance points to combine with the hot three point shooting of Mykal Riley who blistered the nets for 13 points. UMass countered with a strong inside game led by their senior forward, 6'8" Stephane Lasme who scored 13 points and made life difficult around the basket with five blocks. Shooting 58.1% from the field and switching their defenses throughout the half between man to man and zone created 16 points off of nine turnovers for a 41-40 UMass intermission lead. The largest first half lead for Alabama was at the thirteen minute mark with the score 16-8. Free throw shooting in the first half saw Alabama make 5 for 11 and UMass a paltry 2 for 3.

The second half saw Alabama fall behind 47-40 only to come back behind the scoring efforts of Riley, Gee and Hollinger to take a nine point (62-53) lead at the 11:37 mark. UMass continued their hot shooting at 50% on only 20 attempts but visited the free throw line 27 times in the second half making 19 to Alabama's 9 for 10. After a time out with five seconds left in regulation,

Mykal Riley led the scoring for Alabama with 24 as he was 5 for 11 on three pointers and a perfect 7 for 7 at the free throw line. Hollinger had a strong second half as he contributed 16 points for a career high total of 19 on 6 for 14 shooting and also without a miss on four free throws. Gee scored 14 points on a series of drives and dunks off a team leading four steals before fouling out in regulation. Davidson scored 10 points in his final game as a member of the Crimson Tide and had six rebounds and a team leading four blocks. Hendrix, the fifth starter led the team with seven assists and eight rebounds to go along with his eight points before fouling out in regulation.

UMass was led in scoring by Stephane Lasme with 21 points, 10 rebounds and a game changing nine blocks. Four other players scored in double figures for the Minutemen who move on to play at West Virginia in the second round of the NIT east bracket.

Bama Coach Mark Gottfried said, "About all you can say is they (UMass) made the plays when they needed to make them. You have to give those guys credit. Travis, he did a great job tonight coaching his team. We just came up one play short. I couldn't be more proud of our team and their effort. I thought they laid it on the line with Steele out. Hendrix fouls out. Gee fouls out. Riley cramping. We had to overcome a lot and I thought they did. They put themselves in position to have a chance to win it. Our guys played really, really hard tonight and I'm really proud of them, so did their players too but I'm really proud of our team for their effort."

UA stats

Rebounds OF 23 DE 19 TOT 42, leader Hendrix 8

Turnovers 17, leader Riley 6

Blocks 7, leader Davidson 4

Steals 8, leader Gee 4

FG 31 FGA 72

3PT FG 9 FGA 21

FT 16 FTA 23

TOTAL FG% 1ST HALF: 15-36 41.7% 2ND HALF: 15-31 48.4% OT: 1-6 16.7% GAME: 42.5%

3PT FG% 1ST HALF: 5-11 45.5% 2ND HALF: 4-9 44.4% OT: 0-1 0.0% GAME: 42.9%

F Throw % 1ST HALF: 5-11 45.5 % 2ND HALF: 9-10 90% OT: 2-2 100% GAME: 69.6%

UM stats

Rebounds OF 17 DE 23 TOT 40

Turnovers 20

Blocks 10

Steals 11

FG 30 FGA 60

3PT FG 6 FGA 16

FT 23 FTA 33

TOTAL FG% 1ST HALF: 18-31 58.1% 2ND HALF: 10-20 50% OT: 2-9 22.2% GAME: 50.0%

3PT FG% 1ST HALF: 3-8 37.5% 2ND HALF: 3-6 50.0% OT: 0-2 0.0% GAME: 37.5%

F Throw % 1ST HALF: 2-3 66.7% 2ND HALF: 19-27 70.4% OT: 2-3 66.7% GAME: 69.7%



Points in the paint UA-36 UMASS-40

Points off turnovers UA-20 UMASS-20

2nd chance points UA-30 UMASS-17

Fast break points UA-9 UMASS-6

Bench points UA-12 UMASS-16

Score tied – 9 times Lead changed – 13 times Last FG UA OT-00:08 UMASS OT-00:03

Largest Lead UA by 9 2nd-11:37 UMASS by 7 2nd – 17:35

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