SEATTLE – When Nate Oats said yes to the idea of Alabama making the trip to the Pacific Northwest and playing a glorious home game against Gonzaga, he knew it would be an early test of the Crimson Tide’s position.
The Alabama coach also knows that his team is likely to be a tough opponent for what is supposed to be a showcase event for Gonzaga.
“With the way we play, sometimes we can be in danger with how many triples we shoot and they know it,” Oats said. “We hit a few tonight and that helped a bit.”
Jaden Shackelford scored 20 of his 28 points in the first half, Jahvon Quinerly and JD Davison both hit the crucial 3, and No 16 Alabama staged a massive second-half rally by Gonzaga to win 91 -82 ahead of the Bulldogs placed third on Saturday night.
The Crimson Tide (7-1) had taken 10 of 13 3-pointers in the first half, led by Shackelford’s sharp long shot. Alabama led 16 at halftime and endured every charge the Bulldogs made in the second half to lose to Gonzaga for the second time in three games.
Gonzaga led to 18 early in the second half, but pulled in the 76-72 round. The Bulldogs missed several opportunities to cut the deficit, and Davison and Quinerly hit three in a row to give the Crimson Tide a big stepping stone.
Shackelford took 10 of his 16 shots and all of his six trebles came in the first half. He has tied his career to a high score, setting in the 2019-20 season against Auburn. Davison finished with 20 points from the bench and Quinerly added 17.
“Obviously playing for a coach gives you freedom and paints things for you, so go out there and take the right pictures,” Shackelford said. “When you take the right pictures, you get rewarded for it.”
Drew Timme leads Gonzaga (7-2) by 23 points, but it was another stunning offensive performance from Zags, who lost to Duke last week in Las Vegas and looked lethargic in his win over Tarleton State earlier week.
Julian Strawther had 13 points, and Anton Watson and Chet Holmgren each had 10 for Gonzaga, but the Bulldogs failed to hit the perimeter shots at key moments and struggled at the free-throw line.
“Played much better defensively in the second half, played with better energy and spirit and helped us get back to that,” said Gonzaga coach Mark Few.
Alabama led 53-35 in the first seconds of the second half, Gonzaga pulled in 74-70 and 76-72 on Watson’s recovery basket with a 5:27 left, the closest the Bulldogs had since the end of the first half.
Gonzaga went empty-handed in the next three possessions and Davison’s three-pointer pushed Alabama’s lead down to seven with the remaining score at 3:33. Quinerly added a 3 the next time around for Alabama and the lead was 10.
The Crimson Tide missed five consecutive 3-point attempts before Davison made it.
“Both of those guys show they’re seasoned players,” said Oats.
It’s Gonzaga’s return to playing one game per season in Seattle. The event has lost its luster and some of its competitors since the game first began in the early 2000s. The last game was in 2015, an 86-79 win over Tennessee .
In recent years, the transitional Climate Pledge Arena has also had no place to play. But gymnasts have pushed for Gonzaga to become the first basketball game played in the building — aside from a handful of Seattle University home games.
“It’s a breathtaking environment there and it’s really great to be back in Seattle,” said little.
Alabama: Shackelford was near-perfect in the first half, taking 7/8 shots and 6 3-pointers. His 3rd step back at halftime gave Alabama a 51-35 lead at halftime. Shackelford has yet to hit more than five threes in a game this season. More than half of Alabama’s first-half goals came from behind the 3-pointer line with 10 3s and just 8 in the arc.
Gonzaga: Zags is terrible at free-throw, finishing 13 out of 25 and missing finishing opportunities in one-on-one situations many times. Entering the match, the Bulldogs were 71.2% away from the line.
Alabama: Host number 15 Houston on Saturday.
Gonzaga: Reception of Merrimack on Thursday.
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https://www.ksat.com/sports/2021/12/05/no-16-alabama-takes-down-no-3-gonzaga-91-82/ No. 16 Alabama beats No. 3 Gonzaga 91-82