It wasn’t pretty, but unlike Ohio State and several others, the Crimson Tide will advance to the round of 32 on Monday. Herbert Jones and the bench trio of Jahvon Quinerly, Juwan Gary, and Alex Reese carried the team to victory as Bama improved to 25-6 on the year.
Alabama built a quick 7-2 advantage before Iona coach Rick Pitino called a timeout. The Gaels then took a lead before the Tide went on a 9-0 run for a 17-11 edge. Iona clamped down after that and went on a 7-0 run of their own to take a 23-22 lead. Bama went five minutes without a field goal before Jaden Shackelford knocked the seal off. With 1:33 left in the half, the Tide had an eight point lead, but turnovers, missed free throws, and cold shooting from deep led to a meltdown and only a 33-32 half time lead.
Tide was 12-29 from the field, 2-10 from three, and 7-11 from the free throw line at the break. However, they were dominating the boards by a 25-13 margin. Iona shot 13-33, 4-14, and 2-2 in the first. Jones had 12 points at intermission. The team had eight missed layups at the half as well.
The second half was a back and forth affair for the most part, with the teams trading two point leads. Bama had missed 11 three point attempts in a row before Reese nailed one from the top of the key for a 45-42 Tide lead with 10:40 left. Quinerly then started weaving his magic in the lane as he continuously got down hill and scored at the rim. Reese hit another big long range shot, followed by a Jones steal and break away dunk to widen the gap to eight, 54-46. Quinerly hit Gary with a pass for an alley oop dunk to keep the advantage at a comfortable margin. The only thing that kept the Tide from running away and hiding was not being able to make free throws. The lead never got below nine and the Tide made enough free throws, and used a Shackelford late three pointer to reach the 68-55 final score.
Bama finished shooting 47% on 25-53, with 5-16 from three for 31% and only 13-23 for 56% on free throws, with several front end of one and ones. The Tide finished with 37 rebounds, 10 assists, 10 steals, three blocks, and 14 turnovers. Iona finished 23-59 for 39% including 5-23 from deep and made 4-5 free throws. Iona closed the gap and finished with 25 rebounds, eight assists, seven steals, eight blocks, and 15 turnovers.
Jones finished with 20 points, six rebounds, two assists, and three steals in 38 minutes. Quinerly finished with 11 points and four assists, while Petty and Shackelford both had 10, despite not shooting well. Petty led the team with seven rebounds and had two blocks. Gary brought toughness and six points and four rebounds in 20 minutes, and while Reese only had six points, his two three pointers came at very opportune times. Petty earned the teams hard hat award for his play.
This was not pretty, the Tide played a tough, gritty, brand of basketball, and beat an overmatched, albeit very well coached, team. Two seeds are suppose to beat fifteen seeds, and Alabama did do that. The shooting touch will need to come back soon for the team to advance where they are expected to go. Petty looks lost on the offensive end, but he has continued to fight for rebounds, and is playing excellent defense. Quinerly got the hook a couple of time for getting lost on defense, but he is the engine running the offense right now. Juwan Gary is the energizer bunny. Something always seems to happen when he is on the floor. Whatever he is going to do, you can count on it to be balls to the wall.
Next up is the winner of Maryland and
UCON Monday at 7:45pm CT on TNT. Let’s keep this thing going!
Roll Tide #BallAndOats