NEW YORK -- Drexel coach Bruiser Flint made it clear to his team that he wasn't happy with just making an appearance in the NIT Season Tip-Off at Madison Square Garden. He thought the Dragons could win a game, or even two.
It may have taken an extra 15 minutes of basketball but they proved him right with an 85-83 victory over Alabama on Friday night in the third-place game.
"We didn't come here just to be in the tournament. To be honest with you, I was a little disappointed about Monday night and I explained that to these guys," Flint said, referring to the 64-62 semifinal loss to No. 4 Arizona in which Drexel held a 19-point lead. "Tonight, we had our ups and downs, but in the end, we talked about making plays to get over the hump. ... We pulled one out. We needed it. We got to learn some things from it, because we probably won and lost it eight times. But we were able to pull it out in the end and I got a lot of contributions from some guys that don't really play that much and if they continue to play better, that makes us a better team."
Chris Fouch, who had 29 points on Wednesday night, led the Dragons (4-2) with 19 points but was 1 of 12 from 3-point range. Frantz Massenat added 17 points and Kasembe Abif scored 15 points, including four free throws in the third overtime.
"My only thought after the game was that we really grinded it out," Fouch said. "Things weren't going our way. We just kind of were back and forth for a little while but when it came down to it, we buckled down and made stops when we needed it and got the win."
Abif, a 6-foot-7 junior who didn't play in the semifinals because of concussion-like symptoms, grabbed 11 rebounds and finished 9 of 10 from the free throw line.
Drexel took the lead in all three overtimes, including leading by five points in the second and six points in the third.
"One of the things we talked about after the game is we sort of had this won a few times and we gave it back to them," Flint said. "We do a lot of situational basketball during practice, but when the game is going on, it's a little bit different for you, and hopefully we can learn from this experience in terms of what we need to do in certain situations."
Nick Jacobs scored 23 points for the Crimson Tide (3-3), which lost 74-64 to No. 6 Duke in the semifinals, while Trevor Releford had 21. Releford missed a shot in the lane that could have tied the score one more time with seconds left in the third overtime.
"In the overtime there were some big shots that obviously allowed them to build the lead," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "Our guys kept battling the whole way through. We had opportunities there at the end but Drexel was able to make one more play than we did and they earned the win."
Abif made four free throws in as many attempts in the first 2:13 of the third overtime as the Dragons went ahead 83-77. Alabama was within 85-83 with 1:43 left and neither team scored the rest of the way with Drexel missing two scoring chances and Alabama three, the last after freshman Jimmie Taylor missed the second of two free throws on purpose but Releford missed the shot in the lane just before the buzzer.
" Jimmie's a freshman and obviously this is a great learning experience for him, and we'll treat it as such," Grant said. "That was a big offensive rebound that he got and a lot of pressure to go to the line in that situation. After he missed the first free throw, if he missed the second one, it gave us a chance and we got the rebound but we couldn't convert it."
The Dragons, who lost a 19-point lead against Arizona and were ahead by 11 against Alabama, were without starting forward Damion Lee who injured his right knee in the loss to Arizona. The school said no decision was made on his being out past Friday.
Fouch's layup after a steal with 12 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 61. Releford missed a 3-pointer as time expired to send the game into overtime.
Fouch, an 85 percent free throw shooter entering the game, had a chance to expand Drexel's 67-65 lead with 9.6 seconds left in the first overtime but he missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Retin Obasohan, who finished with 18 points, made two free throws with 4.7 seconds left to tie it and Fouch's 3-point attempt bounced off the rim as time expired in the first overtime.
Drexel opened a 74-69 lead 90 seconds into the second overtime but the Crimson Tide tied it at 75 with 47 seconds left on two free throws by Algie Key. Obasohan tied it at 77 with two free throws with 16 seconds left. Fouch had a drive blocked out of bounds with 1 second left. Officials reviewed the tape and put 2.5 seconds on the clock. Abif shot an air ball from the base line as time expired.
This was the first meeting between the schools.
Drexel reached the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off in 2005, losing to then-No. 1 Duke and UCLA at Madison Square Garden.