Cincinnati, OH – Cashmere Wright's bucket as time expired lifted the No. 17 Cincinnati Bearcats to a 58-56 victory over Alabama in an SEC/Big East clash on Saturday.
Wright dribbled up the left side, and unleashed a fadeaway jumper as the clock wound down to triple zeroes that rippled the net cleanly.
"It was the least I can do. I was basically throwing away the whole game at the end," Wright admitted. "I feel like if they can take me that far, if I had the shot, it was in me to shoot it."
JaQuon Parker and Sean Kilpatrick posted 13 points each for the Bearcats (7-0), who overcame Wright's eight-point, four-turnover performance.
"If it wasn't for our fast break, I don't know if we would have scored in the last couple of minutes because we threw it ahead and scored twice," said Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin. "We can't let teams take that away from us. We have to trust it. We can't get away from the way we are. We have to get more bench minutes and keep the pace going."
Trevor Lacey's game-high 16 points and seven rebounds weren't enough for the Crimson Tide (6-1). Trevor Releford totaled 12 points and three steals in the setback.
The game was a close affair throughout the second half. Kilpatrick drew the hosts even at 52-52 when he sank two free throws with 2:32 remaining. Releford missed a shot and Levi Randolph bricked the front end of a 1-and-1, but Nick Jacobs connected to put Alabama up by two with 1:27 to go.
Titus Rubles hit for Cincinnati, but Releford quickly countered for Alabama, then Kilpatrick's lay-in off the break tied the game at 56-all with 41 seconds showing.
Releford then blew a layup with eight seconds left, leading to the winning basket.
"We knew coming in that their defense coming in was outstanding and that they were going to apply pressure, but we just didn't do a very good job handling it," said Alabama head coach Anthony Grant. "They got some turnovers that I think led to 10 of their first 16 points were off of turnovers."
Cincinnati led 11-2 early on, then extended its advantage to 17-4 with 8 1/2 minutes played after an easy bucket from Rubles. Lacey's basket capped a 12-2 Tide surge and pulled the visitors to 19-16, but the hosts used a 10-4 spurt to take a 29-20 edge on a Cheikh Mbodj layup with 3:20 left in the half.
Releford drained a triple and Alabama crawled back to 33-27 at the break.
Nick Jacobs laid one in from the paint with 13:29 to play and the Crimson Tide took a 40-39 lead thanks to a 13-6 clip. Both sides took turns with the lead and kept it close from there, though the Bearcats did manage a 46-43 margin on a Parker trey.
Rubles posted 10 points, five rebounds and three steals ... Alabama owned a 37-32 advantage on the glass, but committed 16 turnovers to 11 for Cincinnati ... Mbodj and Justin Jackson posted a game-high four blocks for the Bearcats.