Tide falls to Maryland in NIT quarterfinals
by Joe Medley
jmedley@annistonstar.com
Mar 26, 2013 | 2974 views |  0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TUSCALOOSA — Maryland center Alex Len scored 15 points, and the Terrapins hit three 3-pointers in a row in a key stretch en route to a 58-57 victory over Alabama in Tuesday’s NIT quarterfinal in Coleman Coliseum.

Alabama (23-13), a No. 1 seed in its eight-team bracket, misses out on the chance to advance to the semifinals in New York’s Madison Square Garden. The Tide reached the finals there two years ago.

Maryland (25-12), the No. 2 seed in Alabama’s bracket, advances to a semifinal showdown against either Virginia or Iowa on April 2 on ESPN2. Virginia and Iowa play Wednesday night.

The key stretch came near the five-minute mark of the second half, when Maryland knocked down 3-pointers on three straight possessions to go up 57-49 with 3:40 to play. Jake Layman hit two consecutive 3s after Pe’Shon Howard hit one.

The flurry of 3-pointers came after Rodney Cooper scored in transition to bring Alabama within 48-47 at 5:08.

Cooper delivered an old-fashioned three-point play to bring Alabama within 57-52, and Nick Jacobs delivered another to bring Alabama within 58-55 with 1:25 to play.

Alabama got the ball back after Dez Wells traveled at 55.7 seconds, and Trevor Releford drove to bring the Tide within 58-57.

Len had a chance to make it a three-point game but missed two free throws with 27.1 seconds left.

Alabama had two shots in its final possession, but Len blocked a Cooper drive out of bounds. Off the inbounds play, Trevor Lacey missed a jumper at the buzzer.

Layman and Wells finished with 13 points apiece, and Maryland finished with 50 percent shooting. Alabama, led by Levi Randolph’s 15 points and 13 from Cooper, shot just 40 percent.

Maryland shot 52.2 percent from the field in building a 31-24 lead at halftime, and the Terps led despite a 7:47 scoring drought.

It started at 17:24, after Wells scored in transition and hit a free throw to put Maryland up 10-5 and ended with two Len free throws at 9:37 to bring the Terps within 13-12.

Alabama scored only eight points during that stretch, going 3-for-13 from the field. The Tide shot just 33.3 percent (9-for-27) from the field in the first half.

Maryland was particularly effective in the paint in the first half, outscoring Alabama 18-10. Wells finished the half with a team-high eight points, and Mitchell and Len added six apiece.

Alabama dominated Stanford 28-14 in the paint in the second round but enjoyed just a 32-30 edge Tuesday.

Sports columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576, jmedley@annistonstar.com. On Twitter @jmedley_star.
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