The Alabama Crimson Tide (3-3) lost in a gut wrenching triple overtime game to the Drexel Dragons (4-2) 85-83 on Friday afternoon in Madison Square Garden in the third place game of the NIT season tip-off. Trailing by two, with under four seconds to play, freshman Jimmie Taylor had a chance to tie the game at the free throw line.
Taylor missed the first, and then seemingly missed the second on purpose. Trevor Releford actually corralled the rebound, but couldn’t convert as the buzzer sounded and Alabama dropped their third game of the young season.
The Crimson Tide seemingly had the game won in regulation, holding a two point lead and the ball with under 20-seconds to go. But, a Trevor Releford turnover led to a layup by Drexel’s Chris Fouch, and Releford couldn’t hit a game winning attempt, and the game went to overtime.
Alabama never really had an opportunity to win at the end in the overtime sessions, as they battled back from deficits in each period. They trailed by two in the first overtime, and caught a break with under 10 seconds to play with Fouch missing the front end of a one-and-one. That led to Obasohan drawing a foul and sinking two free throws to send the game to a second overtime.
In double overtime, the Dragons held a five point lead with two and a half minutes to go. Alabama wouldn’t quit, however. A Nick Jacobs layup, and a Algie Key putback on a missed free throw cut the deficit to just one. Down the stretch, Key and Obasohan stroked four free throws to extend the game to another overtime period.
Drexel took an 85-79 lead in the third overtime with just over two minutes to play, but once again Alabama refused to quit. A pair of Releford free throws, and an Obasohan layup cut the lead to two, and the Crimson Tide had several opportunities to tie or take the lead after that.
After a defensive stop with 10 seconds to play, Anthony Grant decided to go for the win, but Releford missed a three that led to Taylor getting fouled and missing the free throws.
It’s a frustrating loss for the Crimson Tide as they finish in fourth place in the NIT Season Tip Off and suffer a loss that will greatly affect their NCAA Tournament resume later in the season, even though Drexel is a much better basketball team than most would think. The Dragons defeated Rutgers to surprisingly make it to New York, and gave PAC-12 heavyweights UCLA and Arizona all they wanted earlier in the season.
Alabama played a dreadful first half, hitting only 7-of-25 shots from the field and trailing 32-21 after the first 20 minutes of the game. But the Crimson Tide rode Nick Jacobs in the second half to send the game into overtime, as they hit 15-0f-24 from the floor in the second half.
Jacobs led the way for the Crimson Tide with a career high 23 points and 8 rebounds. At one point, Jacobs made 10 consecutive field goals, but fouled out early in the third overtime.
Trevor Releford had 21 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals, but had several crucial turnovers in key moments of the game.
Retin Obasohan didn’t have a great shooting night, hitting just 3-of-11 shots from the field, but he was key in the second half with his ability to attack the basket and get to the free throw line. He knocked down 12-of-15 free throws, leading to 18 points. He also had 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.
Drexel had three players in double figures, led by Chris Fouch’s 19 points. Kazembe Abif came up huge off the bench, scoring 15 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, including an incredible 8 offensive rebounds that very well may have been the difference in the game.
You certainly couldn’t question the heart of this Crimson Tide team, but in the end they just couldn’t make enough plays in critical moments to escape with a win. Sitting at .500 through six games is not what Alabama fans had in mind this season, and the heat and vitriol continues to spill towards head coach Anthony Grant.
Moving forward, Alabama has three very winnable games coming up against North Florida, South Florida, and Charleston Southern before their next big test on December 17th at home against 12th ranked Wichita State.
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