Riley’s 13 points in overtime lifts Alabama past Vanderbilt 78-73
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP)—Mykal Riley’s ill-timed foul helped No. 16 Vanderbilt force overtime. The Alabama senior’s three 3-pointers, driving basket and two free throws in the extra 5 minutes more than made up for it.
Riley scored the Crimson Tide’s first 13 points of overtime in his final home game, a 78-73 win over the Commodores on Saturday.
“I guess you could say this is a perfect memory for me,” Riley said.
The Tide (16-15, 5-11 Southeastern Conference) closed a disappointing regular season with its biggest win while ending Vanderbilt’s bid for a second straight overtime win and a No. 2 seed and first-round bye in the SEC tournament.
The loss meant Vandy (25-6, 10-6) remained tied with the 1992-93 team for the school record for regular-season wins.
The Commodores needed a win and a Kentucky loss to Florida on Sunday to secure the SEC East’s No. 2 seed.
Alabama and Vanderbilt will meet again Thursday in the SEC tournament.
Shan Foster opened the overtime with a steal and layup to give Vanderbilt a 64-62 lead, but it was all Riley from there. The Tide’s only senior who plays finished with 26 points, six 3-pointers and 10 rebounds. He added two free throws with 44 seconds left.
“That was a brilliant 5-minute performance there,” Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings said. “We had our chances, but mentally we were not of the mind-set to win today. It’s a little bit disappointing. I thought we took a step back in terms of our team attitude.
“Generally the best thing that we have going for us is our team attitude, and that was not our strength today. We deserved to get beat. Hopefully it will be good for us.”
Riley didn’t let his late-game blunder keep him down. His foul on A.J. Ogilvy’s layup allowed the Commodores freshman to make a three-point play to tie it with 20 seconds left in regulation.
Even Riley called it “a stupid play.”
“I believe when you have great character like he does, you’re able to bounce back,” Tide coach Mark Gottfried said. “Sometimes you make mistakes and you just kind of collapse. And he didn’t. He responded and really carried us in overtime. It was unbelievable.”
Foster was coming off a 42-point performance when he hit his last nine 3-point attempts including the game-winner with 2.7 seconds left in an 86-85 win over Mississippi State on Wednesday. He finished with 21 points against Alabama after managing just five in the first half.
“We played team defense and we were just very aggressive on him and just tried to keep him without the ball,” said Alonzo Gee, who spent much of the game guarding Foster.
The game almost never made it to overtime. Ogilvy caught Alan Metcalfe’s full-court inbounds pass under the basket with .8 seconds left but his shot didn’t fall.
“It was a really good pass,” said Ogilvy, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds despite picking up his fourth foul with 12 minutes left in regulation. “I sort of had to backpedal a little bit. I didn’t really explode to the rim. I just wasn’t able to convert on the end of it.”
His tying three-point play came after he blocked a shot at the other end. Riley wishes he had just conceded the easy basket.
“It was a bad foul,” he said. “We were up by three and he was shooting a layup and I gave him a chance to get a three-point play.”
Demetrius Jemison of Alabama then missed a potential go-ahead basket from the free throw line.
Gee finished with 16 points for the Tide while Richard Hendrix had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Ross Neltner scored 13 points for the Commodores.
Vanderbilt trailed by 10 points early in the second half, but then put the clamps on Alabama’s shooters. The Commodores used a 16-2 run to build a 48-44 lead, a stretch when the Tide missed 13 consecutive shots.
Alabama started making them after that, while Vandy shot just 38 percent and made 7-of-25 3s.
“They just got a lot better looks than we did and they made some key shots,” Ogilvy said. “That’s the difference in the game. We didn’t play well enough on the defensive end. We gave up too many easy baskets.
“I think they played harder on defense than we did.”