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Men’s basketball loses to Iona in ESPN Events Invitational quarter-finals



The same problem that plagued the Alabama Crimson Tide for years struck again Thursday night. The Crimson Tide (4-1) missed 12 free throws in a 72-68 loss to the Iona Gaels (6-0) at the ESPN Events Invitational.

Alabama shot a total of 13 for 25 from the strip, and it cost them.

I feel like when you get lost in the game playing the right way, the free throws sometimes take care of themselves, said Alabama head coach Nate Oats.

Once again, goaltender Jaden Shackelford topped Alabama with 19 points, but it happened on a 6v7 shooting night. His backcourt partner, goaltender Jahvon Quinerly, added. 15 others.

Quinerly missed four crucial free throws. Freshman JD Davison also struggled. He was 4-for-8 from the row.

The Gaels had a balanced attack, with five players scoring in double digits. Forward Nelly Junior Joseph and goaltender Walter Clayton Jr. led the way with 15 each. Joseph also had 11 rebounds and four blocks.

As a team, the Crimson Tide shot 44.6 percent from the field but never found their rhythm beyond the arc, making just five of 17 attempts. Alabama defeated Iona 38-31. Both sides committed 13 turnovers.

After losing to Alabama last year, Iona came out ready to play.

The Gaels and Crimson Tide were tied after 10 minutes of action. The teams went back and forth throughout the match. Neither team has taken a double-digit lead.

The Crimson Tide entered the half-time break leading 33-29 after a physical first half.

Alabama took a 46-37 lead with 12:28 left, but they couldn’t fend off the Gaels. The longer Alabama let Iona stay in the game, the more Iona believed they could win.

After an out-of-bounds call, Oats received a technical foul for arguing with referee Doug Sirmons.

Iona had a 10-1 run to tie the score at 47 with less than 10 minutes to go. The pressure has shifted to the Crimson Tide.

After a successful free throw, Alabama led 57-52 with eight minutes remaining. This time, Iona had a 12-2 run to jump past Alabama, leading 64-59 with 3:23 on the clock.

Leading 66-65 with about a minute left, Iona goaltender Elijah Joiner knocked down an Alabama defenseman, hit a 3-point pullback and extended the lead to four.

Quinerly descended on the field and threw a pass to Shackelford, who knocked down one of his three runs to reduce the lead to one with 57 seconds left.

After a successful free throw, Alabama had 20 seconds to equalize or take the lead. Quinerly passed a defender but was blocked at the rim by goalkeeper Berrick JeanLouis.

The Gaels made both free throws to put the game on ice.

We obviously didn’t play well, Oats said. I have to give Iona a lot of credit. They came out and played the right way. They played hard. We beat them nine in the second half and they responded with a 10-1 run. I think my tech was in the middle of it. It’s mine. It was not opportune on my side.

Oats reminded everyone that the SEC championship winning team last year started 4-3.

Last year, after seven games, we were 4-3, Oats said. We would like to be 5-0. I thought we could have been easy, but sometimes it’s better to suffer a loss and learn from it.

Alabama will play again Friday night against winner Belmont and Drake.

We have to learn and move on, Oats said. Fortunately, we are playing in less than 24 hours.

Since Oats took over, the Crimson Tides have attempted less than 20 3-pointers twice. Both were against Iona.

They’re trying to stay home on the shooters and try to get us to end up on them at the rim, Oats said. You must be able to finish at the rim. [Rick Pitino] is a Hall of Fame Coach. He knows what he’s doing. We need to better understand how the teams face us.

The time and station for the Friday game are to be determined.




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