TUSCALOOSA | Dealing with injury was tough enough for the University of Alabama men's basketball team, but the Crimson Tide added insult Wednesday night, losing 81-76 at home to the Dayton Flyers with a thoroughly forgettable effort.
Dayton (6-2) outshot, outrebounded and outhustled the Crimson Tide virtually all evening. A frantic late rally did cut the deficit to just five points with 45 seconds to play, but UA (6-2) could come no closer.
The Crimson Tide was playing without two regulars, center Carl Engstrom and guard Andrew Steele and seemed out of sync all evening.
Dayton got off to a fast start, jumping out to a 13-2 lead in less than five minutes. Alabama gradually whittled away at that lead, largely from the foul line, and held a lead of 31-30 when Devonta Pollard hit a 3-pointer with 2:12 remaining in the half. But the Flyers closed the half on an 8-2 run to take a 38-33 halftime lead and carried that momentum into the second half.
The Flyers stretched their lead to as many as 15 points, 70-55, with 5:40 to play before Alabama finally began to rally. UA came as close as five points, 76-71, on a dunk and free throw by Pollard with 45.2 seconds to go. Dayton made one free throw and Alabama regained possession with 44 seconds to go and a chance to force a one-possession game, but Rodney Cooper shot an air all on a 3-point try and Dayton was able to close out the game at the foul line. Trevor Lacey hit a 3-pointer as time expired to cut the final deficit back to five, but it was strictly cosmetic.
"We have a lot of respect for Alabama," Dayton coach Archie Miller said. "This is the type of environment where you have got to have playmakers, and we had so many guys step up and make plays. Quite frankly, I thought Kevin Dillard dominated the game. It was a big stage. That is the sign of a great point guard."
Dillard scored 25 points to lead all scorers, while Josh Benson added 19 for Dayton. Alabama had four scorers on double figures, led by Trevor Lacey's 16 points and five assists. Levi Randolph added 15 points for UA. Trevor Releford scored 13 and Cooper 12.
Alabama, after a break for exams, will carry a two-game losing streak into a two-game road trip with contests at Virginia Commonwealth and Texas Tech.
TideSports.com: Andrew Bone's Recruiting Q&A transcript
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.