SEATTLE SPORTS PIT

No. 3 Gonzaga falls to No. 16 Alabama 91-82 in Battle in Seattle

Dec 4, 2021, 7:57 PM | Updated: 8:34 pm

              Alabama's Jahvon Quinerly, left, and Gonzaga's Andrew Nembhard (3) collide while chasing the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
            
              Alabama's Jaden Shackelford, left, tries to get a foot on the ball as Gonzaga's Andrew Nembhard reaches for the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
            
              Alabama's Noah Gurley (0) knocks a shot away from Gonzaga's Hunter Sallis (10) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
            
              Alabama's Noah Gurley (0) knocks away a shot by Gonzaga's Drew Timme (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
            
              Alabama's JD Davison (3) tries to drive past Gonzaga's Julian Strawther (0) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE (AP) — When Nate Oats said yes to the idea of Alabama making the trip to the Pacific Northwest and playing a glorified home game against Gonzaga, he knew it would be an early test of where the Crimson Tide stood.

Alabama’s coach also knew his team could end up being a tough opponent for what was supposed to be a showcase event for Gonzaga.

Alabama 91, Gonzaga 82: Box score

“With the way we play, we can be dangerous at times with how many threes that we shoot and they knew that,” Oats said. “We hit a few tonight and that helped a little bit.”

Jaden Shackelford scored 20 of his 28 points in the first half, Jahvon Quinerly and JD Davison both hit key 3-pointers, and No. 16 Alabama held off Gonzaga’s big second-half rally for a 91-82 win over the third-ranked Bulldogs on Saturday night.

The Crimson Tide (7-1) made 10 of their 13 3-pointers in the first half, led by Shackelford’s sharp shooting from deep. Alabama led by 16 at halftime and withstood every charge the Bulldogs made in the second half to hand Gonzaga its second loss in three games.

Gonzaga trailed by as many as 18 at the beginning of the second half, but pulled within 76-72. The Bulldogs missed several chance to cut the deficit, and Davison and Quinerly hit consecutive 3-pointers to give the Crimson Tide a big cushion.

Shackelford made 10 of 16 shots and all six of his 3-pointers came in the first half. He tied his career high in points, set during the 2019-20 season against Auburn.

Davison finished with 20 points off the bench and Quinerly added 17.

“Obviously, playing for coach who gives you the freedom and draws stuff up for you, so just going out there and taking the right shots,” Shackelford said. “When you take the right shots, you’re rewarded for it.”

Drew Timme led Gonzaga (7-2) with 23 points, but it was another sputtering offensive performance for the Zags, who lost to Duke last week in Las Vegas and looked lethargic in a win over Tarleton State earlier this week.

Julian Strawther had 13 points, and Anton Watson and Chet Holmgren 10 each for Gonzaga, but the Bulldogs didn’t hit perimeter shots at key times and struggled badly at the free-throw line.

“Played much better defense the second half, played with way better energy, spirit and got us back into it,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “And then, again, we just weren’t good that last four minutes.”

Alabama led 53-35 in the opening seconds of the second half, Gonzaga pulled within 74-70 and 76-72 on Watson’s rebound basket with 5:27 left, the closest the Bulldogs had been since late in the first half.

Gonzaga was empty on its next three possessions and Davison’s 3-pointer pushed the Alabama lead back to seven with 3:33 left. Quinerly added a 3 the next time down for Alabama and the lead was 10.

The Crimson Tide had missed five straight 3-point attempts before Davison’s make.

“Both those guys showed they’re big-time players,” Oats said. “It was time to step up and make some plays and our defense got some stops.”

WELCOME BACK

It was the return of Gonzaga playing one game per season in Seattle. The event had lost its luster and some of its marquee opponents from when the game first started in the early 2000s. The last game was in 2015, a 86-79 win over Tennessee.

There was also the lack of a place to play in recent years while Climate Pledge Arena was undergoing its transformation. But the operators of the arena made a big push for Gonzaga to be the first marquee basketball game played in the building — aside from some Seattle University home games.

“It was a spectacular environment in there and really cool to be back in Seattle,” Few said.

BIG PICTURE

Alabama: Shackelford was nearly perfect in the first half, making 7 of 8 shots and six 3-pointers. His step-back 3 at the halftime buzzer gave Alabama a 51-35 lead at the break. Shackelford had not made more than five 3s in a game yet this season. More than half of Alabama’s first-half field goals came from behind the 3-point line with 10 3s and just eight field goals inside the arc.

Gonzaga: The Zags were terrible at the free-throw line, finishing 13 of 25 and missing the front end of one-and-one situations several times. Entering the game, the Bulldogs were 71.2% from the line.

UP NEXT

Alabama: Hosts No. 15 Houston on Saturday.

Gonzaga: Hosts Merrimack on Thursday.

Seattle Sports Pit

Paul Silas...
The Associated Press

Paul Silas, 3-time NBA champion including with Sonics, dies at 79

Paul Silas, a member of three NBA championship teams as a player including the 1978-79 Seattle Sonics, has died. at the age of 79
2 months ago
XFL Seattle Dragons...
Brent Stecker

Seattle Sea Dragons reveal uniforms for 2023 XFL relaunch

The relaunch of the XFL got a little bit more real with the reveal of the uniforms for all eight teams, including the Seattle Sea Dragons.
2 months ago
World Cup...
The Associated Press

US knocked out of World Cup after 3-1 loss to the Netherlands

The Netherlands eliminated the United States from the World Cup with a 3-1 victory Saturday that advanced the Dutch to the quarterfinals.
2 months ago
World Cup US Iran...
The Associated Press

Pulisic goal advances US in World Cup with 1-0 win over Iran

Christian Pulisic scored while crashing headfirst into the goalkeeper in the 38th minute and the United States advanced to the knockout round of the World Cup with a 1-0 win over Iran.
2 months ago
World Cup US England...
The Associated Press

US frustrates England again at a World Cup in 0-0 draw

The United States frustrated England in a 0-0 draw on Friday in the latest occasion in which the Americans have defied the odds against the Three Lions.
2 months ago
Wales' Gareth Bale celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during the World Cup, group B s...
The Associated Press

Wales converts PK, US settles for 1-1 draw in World Cup opener

Gareth Bale converted a penalty kick in the 82nd minute to offset Tim Weah's first-half goal and give Wales a 1-1 draw with the US in a World opener.
2 months ago
No. 3 Gonzaga falls to No. 16 Alabama 91-82 in Battle in Seattle