Tide falls short, 71-64

The University of Alabama men’s basketball team seemed to carry plenty of momentum out of Nashville last weekend but apparently dropped it off somewhere around Cullman.

The Crimson Tide clearly didn’t bring any energy into Coleman Coliseum, where momentum has gone to die for much of the year, ending the season on a downbeat after thought in a 71-64 loss to Richmond in the opening round of the NIT on Tuesday night. The loss ended Alabama’s season with a 19-15 record.

“Richmond came in ready to play,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “We just didn’t have that eye of the tiger early in the game tonight. We weren’t able to capitalize on our size advantage early on.

“I feel bad for our seniors. We could have had another game based on the bracket, but, give Richmond credit. As much as I hate to lose, I’m not going to let this loss detract from our season. I feel bad for our seniors, I feel bad for the fans who came out — but we’ve got to get better.”

Richmond was the quicker, sharper team all night, especially in the final five minutes. UA had tied the game at 61-61 on a Dazon Ingram layup with 5:17 remaining but did not score again for nearly five minutes. In the interim, Richmond had built a six-point lead that UA could not overcome.

Alabama continued a puzzling trend of listless first-half play, although it seemed to affect the defense moreso than the offense. Richmond shot 54 percent from the floor in the half, many of the baskets coming on layups, and led by as many as nine points (36-27) before UA closed the half on a 5-0 run to cut the Spiders’ halftime lead to 36-32.

Alabama quickly regained the lead, going up 39-36, but the Spiders answered and Alabama could never make enough defensive stops — Richmond shot almost 54 percent from the floor — to make a run.

“I think it was unusual for the Alabama guys to be out on the floor having to guard away from the goal,” Richmond coach Chris Mooney said. “Maybe our offense was a little different than what they usually prepare for.”

“It was very frustrating,” Ingram said. “They’ve got a lot of playmakers and shooters and they were able to get an answer almost every time down the floor.”

Corban Collins, playing in his final collegiate game, led Alabama with 19 points, while Ingram added 11.

Alabama finished its season with six losses in Tuscaloosa and another in a “semi-home” game in Birmingham.

“We’ve got to have more swagger, more pride protecting our home court,” Johnson said.

Reach Cecil Hurt at cecil@tidesports.com or 205-722-0225.