In the opening game of the season, Trevor Lacey delivered on a last-second shot for an Alabama win. In what would be the final game of the 2012-13 season, Lacey’s last-second 15-footer hit the rim, bounced high in the air, and came down wide.
Alabama fought the good fight, but came up just short in the quarterfinbals of the NIT in Coleman Coliseum Tuesday night. Maryland advances to Madison Square Garden with a 58-57 win over the Crimson Tide.
Maryland improves to 25-12 on the season. Bama’s season ends at 23-13.
The Terrapins got back-to-back three-point shots from Jake Layman and went from a to-point lead to an eight-point lead – 57-49 -- with less than four minutes to play. Layman had been 0-3 on three-pointers until that point.
But Alabama continued to battle, forcing Maryland turnovers and holding the Terrapins to only one more point, and none in the final 2:10. Rodney Cooper got his own rebound and putback and added a free throw. Nick Jacobs scored, and also added a free throw. With 46.5 seconds to play, Trevor Releford drove the lane for a layup to pull the Tide to within one point at 58-57.
Levi Randolph, who had keyed Bama’s comeback effort, fouled Maryland’s Alex Len with 27 seconds, but Len – a 7-1 center who scored 15 points and had 13 rebounds – missed both free throws. Randolph grabbed the rebound and Bama called timeout with 19 seconds to set up a play.
It wasn’t much of a play.
A desperation shot was blocked out of bounds – the eighth block of the game for Maryland and fifth by Len – and the Tide had to try to manufacture something with under four seconds to play. Lacey got a clean look, but the shot just missed, leaving Lacey 1-6 from the field on the night.
Alabama Coach Anthony Grant was pleased with the enthusiasm of the crowd of 9,479.
“Maryland played a great game and was able to extend the lead (in the second half),” Grant said, but our guys kept fighting. We had several games come down to the wire this year and we won our share, but we didn’t tonight.
“It’s a disappointing season, tough to end like that, but we’ve got a bunch of guys returning and our success going forward will be based on how much we improve individually.”
Maryland shot the ball very well, 23-46 from the field (50 per cent) and 7-15 on three-point shots (46.7 per cent). Bama made 22-55 from the field (40 pr cent) and only 4-15 (26.7 per cent) on treys. Alabama’s free throw shooting helped, 9-11, compared to Maryland’s 5-10. One Alabama free throw attempt was waved off when Moussa Gueye walked off the line after Randolph (who was 4-4 on free throws) had been given the ball by the official.
Maryland out-rebounded Bama, 33-27, but Bama made up part of that by forcing 18 turnovers and making 14. Bama had only a slight advantage, 14-12, on points off turnovers. The Tide had a surprising 32-30 advantage on scoring in the paint.
Randolph led Alabama in scoring with 15 points, while Cooper had 13 and Releford 11. Jacobs came off the bench to hit 4-6 field goals and his only free throw opportunity for nine points. In addition to Len’s 15 points, the Terps got 13 each from Layman and Dez Wells.
Maryland had a 31-24 lead at halftime, and less than four minutes into the second half the Terrapins had it out to a 10-point lead at 38-28.
Bama was never able to catch Maryland in the second half, getting within a point a couple of times. There were three ties and six lead changes, all in the first half.
Maryland went almost eight minutes without scoring a point in a first half drought. How much did Alabama take advantage? The Crimson Tide scored eight points and had its biggest lead of the half at 13-10. And the Tide would have a scoreless drought of over six minutes
With 6:12 to play in the first half, Alabama trailed by only a point at 20-19, but Bama would be outscored by 11-5 down the stretch, including the final points of the half when Bama’s Nick Jacobs threw the ball right to Maryland’s Jake Layman for a dunk with 1:25 to play.
TIDE NOTES: Bob Wischusen, the play-by-play announcer for the ESPN telecast of the game, is the radio play-by-play man for the New York Jets. His color man on Jets’ broadcasts is former Crimson Tide star Marty Lyons, who remained in New York after his career with the Jets.
Alabama continued with its normal starting lineup of junior center Moussa Gueye surrounded by guards, junior Trevor Releford and sophomores Revor Lacey, Levi Randolph, and Rodney Cooper.
This is Alabama’s 12th NIT appearance. In seven of the previous 11 Bama had made it to the semifinals in New York. The Tide’s record in all NIT games including this year’s 2-1 record is 23-15.
Bama now has a 1-4 record against Maryland.
Although part of it is Alabama’s slowdown offense, it is amazing that the Crimson Tide held two-thirds of its opponents – 24 of 36 – to under 60 points this season. Bama was 19-5 in games in which the opponent was held to under 60 points.