Basketball falls in overtime to UGA

Basketball falls in overtime to UGA

Retin Obasohan drives in Alabama's loss to Georgia on Saturday night. 

Just short. Again.

Alabama lost its fifth consecutive one-possession game, falling 66-65 to UGA at Coleman Coliseum on Saturday night. A career-high in scoring by freshman Riley Norris and a double-double by junior Retin Obasohan were not enough as Alabama fell to 0-5 in one possession games this season.

Two plays made all the difference in Saturday’s loss, which dropped the Crimson Tide to 16-11, 6-8 SEC. With seven seconds to play in overtime, Georgia’s Cameron Forte made a shot over Norris. Alabama had been playing one of its best defensive games of the season, holding the Bulldogs to just 38 percent shooting.

“I thought we defended the play well,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. “Give their guy credit, he made a heck of a shot to put them up.”

Georgia worked through several options as the play broke down, eventually ending with the ball in Forte’s hands on the right wing, matched up against Norris. The two players are almost exactly the same size, and Norris had him trapped. Forte, who averages 1.3 makes per game, took one dribble with his left hand, rolled twice to the baseline and shot a contested mid-range fadeaway jumper - one of the least efficient shots in basketball.

He made it.

“They ran a little ball screen and we did a good job getting back on the ball, defended it well,” Norris said. “They went to their last resort and the guy made a tough shot over me and won the game.”

The last play of the game came after Obasohan’s coast-to-coast drive ended in a blocked shot out of bounds. With one second on the clock, Obasohan inbounded the ball to guard Rodney Cooper - a senior shooting 40 percent from three point range. Cooper caught the ball in the corner.

“We ran the offense to go to Coop and that’s what happened,” Obasohan said. “We executed the play. It just fell short.”

The senior shot-faked with one second to play. There was no foul - no contact at all. The shot Cooper got off came after the buzzer, and didn’t go in anyway.

“We had two options on the play,” Grant said. “We didn’t know if they would be in man or zone, so we had two options: try to free Coop up with a double screen… We felt like we had time for a catch and shoot. The other option would be if they tried to switch out, Jimmie [Taylor] slipping to rim. They didn’t switch out, Coop was able to catch it. I think he saw a guy run at him and probably thought the guy was maybe going to foul him and he’d be able to get it off. They did a pretty good job of covering him.”

Norris was in rare form, shooting 3-for-5 from three-point range and 4-for-9 from the field, scoring his season-high 14 in just 25 minutes of play.

“Riley - he’s going to bring it every day, day in, day out,” Obasohan said. “Doesn’t matter where, doesn’t matter when. This is just a testament to how great Riley can be and how great Riley is. This doesn’t surprise me at all because I see this every day in practice. I see how hard he works, I see how hard he brings us and pushes us in practice. This boost that he brought to us today was tremendous but at the same time he does this every day. I’m proud of him and how hard he played.”

Obasohan’s double-double came with season-highs in points (16) and rebounds (12). Obasohan started in place of injured point guard Ricky Tarrant, out for the seventh consecutive game, and played 40 minutes in the loss.

“This is not about me,” Obasohan said. “This is about the team. I’m just glad and thankful I can do whatever I can do to help the team win. Today, I’m proud of the guys. I’m proud of our coaching staff. We came in today and we brought it. We got to give Georgia credit because they did what they had to do and we fell short today.”

Alabama shot just 16-of-31 from the line - a rare blight on a team that averages 75 percent from the free throw line and is the third-best free throw shooting team in the league.

“It’s a tough loss but at the same time, for our guys, the character, the grit that they’ve shown all year, it will manifest itself,” Grant said. “We’ll get ready for Tuesday’s game against South Carolina.”

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