Alabama Basketball Wins On Defense

It is not unexpected when Trevor Releford has a big night in an Alabama basketball win, and Releford was excellent with 22 points and six assists in the Crimson Tide's 59-46 win over Charleston Southern Friday night in Coleman Coliseum. It was a surprise, though, that junior center Carl Engstrom, getting only his second career start, was instrumental in the Bama win.

Alabama led for all but a few minutes of the game against Charleston Southern in running the Bama record to 5-0 on the season. In addition to Trevor Releford getting 22 points on 7-15 shooting, including 5-8 three-point shots, the Tide got 10 points from Levi Randolph.

Carl Engstrom, the 7-1, 285-pound Swede, scored only six points, but had a career-high eight rebounds, two steals, and two blocked shots and forced a number of altered shots in the Bama victory.

Alabama returns to action in Coleman Coliseum Tuesday when the Crimson Tide hosts Lamar. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. CST

Charleston Southern got 10 points each from Pal Gombwer and Saah Nimley. The Buccaneers fell to 1-4.

Although usually reliable outside shooter Trevor Lacey made only 1-7 on three-pointers, the Tide was about as good from outside as on two-point field goals. Bama made 23-57 for 40.4 per cent, including 8-21 on treys, 38.1 per cent.

Bama had nine points each from Devonta Pollard and Lacey. Lacey and Releford had six assists each as the Tide had 17 assits to seven for Charleston Southern. Lacey had five of Bama's 11 steals. Moussa Gueye had three of the Tide's seven blocked shots.

Alabama held the Buccaneers to only 32.7 per cent shooting from the field (17-52). CSU made 7-21 on three-pointers, 33.3 per cent.

Alabama started the game in a zone defense and used man-to-man and a trapping zone, as well as full court pressure in holding down the Charleston Southern offense.

Alabama forced 17 turnovers by the Bucs and turned those into 17 points, but CSU also got 17 points off the Tide's 11 turnovers. Alabama outscored the Buccaneers by 30-18 in the paint and 12-6 on fast break points. Charleston Southern had 12 second chance points, Alabama only 7.

Alabama's 13-point margin at the end was the Tide's biggest lead in the game. Charleston Southern had a five-point lead midway through the first half.

Alabama Coach Anthony Grant said he had been impressed with Charleston Southern when scouting the Buccaneers, and that was reinforced when the Buccaneers made six three-point shots in the first half. "We got great play from out bigs," he said. "When we weren't shooting well, I thought our defensive intensity helped us."

Grant said, "I thought Carl was extemely effective. It was good to see him go up and block shots and alter shots and go after rebounds. He played with great energy."

After taking a nine-point halftime lead, Bama went through a drought of nearly six minutes before Levi Randolph made a three-point basket to stop a 5-0 Charleston Southern run. Grant said the Tide hit only one of its first 16 shots to start the second half.

The Buccaneers had pulled to within six points at 47-41 with under five minutes to play when the visitors were hit with a technical foul. Trevor Releford made two free throws and then fed Devona Pollard for a dunk. Moments later Carl Engstrom blocked a shot that led to a Releford fast break layup and a 43-41 lead with under four minutes to play. An Engstrom slam dunk made it 55-43 with 2:59 to go.

Alabama scored the first nine points of the first half and the last 10 points of the first stanza to take a 36-27 halftime lead.

Alabama opened the game with a 9-0 lead, but Charleston Southern came back to take a 15-13 lead with under 11 minutes to play in the first half. Less than six and a half minutes into the game, all five Bama starters had scored and the Tide had a 13-5 lead. The Buccaneers extended that lead to 18-13. Trevor Releford's three-pointer tied it at 18-18 with eight minutes to play and a Trevor Lacey coast-to-coast put the Tide ahead. But Charleston Southern didn't go away, getting a fast break layup with 2:25 to play to take the lead at 27-26. Levin Randolph's three-pointer put the Tide back in front at 29-27.

A free throw by Devonta Pollard and two Releford treys in the final two minutes gave Bama a 36-27 halftime lead.

TIDE NOTES: Carl Engstrong made his first start of the year, the second career start for the 7-1 junior center. Also starting were Trevor Releford, Trevor Lacy, Devonta Pollard, and Levin Randolph.

Less than eight minutes into the game, Alabama put four new players on the court – Andrew Steele, Nick Jacobs, Retin Obasohan, and walk-on Dakota Slaughter, along with Randolph.

Sophomore guard Rodney Cooper did not dress for the game because of tendonitis in his shoulder, and was held out for "precautionary reasons" according to a Bama official.

Among those in attendance at Friday's game was former Crimson Tide star Buck Johnson.

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