South Carolina’s NCAA tournament hopes suffered a devastating setback at the hands of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Saturday. The Gamecocks led by a basket at halftime, but couldn’t hold off the Crimson Tide’s second half surge in a 90-86 loss.
The Gamecocks (17-12, 9-7 SEC) shot a respectable 46% from the field but struggled, yet again, to keep pace at the foul line. While Alabama scored more than a third of its points from the stripe (33-47, 70%), South Carolina managed only 17 points on free throws (17-26, 65%).
Forward Keyshawn Bryant had one of his best games in garnet, scoring 22 points and snagging 13 rebounds. Guards A.J. Lawson and Jermaine Couisnard contributed 17 and 12 points, respectively, but combined to hit on just two of 10 3-pointers.
The Gamecocks bested the Tide in turnovers, points in the paint and bench production, due in large part to Jair Bolden’s 11-point effort, but simply couldn’t overcome the foul shooting differential.
Bolden supplied South Carolina with a much needed lift by hitting a trio of 3-pointers in the first half, the third of which gave the Gamecocks a 41-40 lead with 2:02 remaining in the half. Unfortunately, it was the last long-distance shot made by a Gamecock.
Alabama guard Jaden Shackelford’s foul shot gave the Tide a 66-65 lead with 9:06 remaining. Alabama would never again trail. South Carolina hung close and a had a chance to tie with five seconds left, but A.J. Lawson’s off-balance 3-pointer missed the mark and sealed the Gamecocks fate.
Alanzo Frink followed his career-best scoring performance (22 points) against Georgia with 10 points and seven rebounds. Maik Kotsar, meanwhile, scored eight points, failing to reach double figures for the first time in the last ten games.
The Gamecocks will try to resuscitate their waning NCAA tournament hopes when they play host to Mississippi State, Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.