Alabama defeats Coastal Carolina, advances in NITBy Laura Owens | 03/15/2011 6:16pm
In the first round of the National Invitation Tournament [NIT], Alabama defeated the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers 68-44 in front of a home crowd in Coleman Coliseum Tuesday night. Alabama came into the game as one of four No. 1 seeds in the NIT.
Now 17-0 at home this season, the Crimson Tide will advance to the second round of the NIT tournament to face the winner of the New Mexico/UTEP game. Alabama improves to 22-11 on the season and stays at 12-4 in the Southeastern Conference. Coastal Carolina, this year’s Big South champion, falls to 28-6 overall.
After not making the NCAA tournament Sunday, head coach Anthony Grant said the team talked about turning the page and not looking behind them during the NIT.
“I’m proud of our guys that the message was heard,” he said. “I thought we came out and played to our identity and did the things that have allowed us to have the success that we’ve been able to enjoy this year.”
This appearance in the NIT was Alabama’s 11th in school history and the Tide’s first postseason appearance since 2007. With the 17 home wins, Alabama ties the school record for most home wins in a season.
At the half, Alabama led Coastal Carolina 38-22 with freshman Trevor Releford and sophomore Tony Mitchell leading the team with 10 points each.
The Tide’s defense held the Chanticleers to only 31 percent of its field goals, while making 55 percent of its own field goals. From beyond the arc, Alabama went 4-for-10, with Mitchell getting three of those.
Alabama got off to a fast 5-point lead before Coastal Carolina caught up at 5. After the Tide pulled ahead, the score didn’t tie back up for the rest of the half.
Right before halftime, Alabama had doubled the Chanticleers’ score when it was 36-18 and then led by 20 before Coastal Carolina got the last two baskets of the half to cut the Tide’s lead to 16.
Alabama came out strong in the second half, with Charvez Davis sinking his second three-pointer of the game. From there, the Tide capitalized on forced turnovers to keep the lead comfortable.
About seven minutes into the half, senior Senario Hillman surpassed the 1,000-point hump in his career at Alabama, becoming the 44th member in the 1,000-point club. In the game, Hillman had 11 points, making his career total 1,005.
“It means a lot to me,” Hillman said. “It was one of my goals. I just have to keep continuing playing hard.”
For the game, Alabama shot 48 percent of its field goals and 35 percent of its three-pointers. The Tide’s defense held Coastal Carolina to 33 percent of both its field goals and three-pointers.
Alabama dominated in the paint yet again, having 38 points to Coastal Carolina’s 21. Alabama also won in the points off turnovers, with the Tide getting 29 points off Coastal Carolina’s 19 turnovers.
“We created turnovers that led to transition opportunities, and that’s what we talk about, wanting our defense to create offense and play the game in transition as much as possible,” Grant said.
Alabama’s next game will be in Coleman Coliseum, but the time and day are to be announced.