Tide Suffers First Loss

Although at the final buzzer the ball was in the air to send the game into overtime, that as misleading as Alabama losing by only three points to Washington in the finals of the Great Alaska Shootout Saturday. Bama, ranked 19th in the nation, fell to the 22nd ranked Huskies, 79-76.

Alabama had a nice lead early in the game, but the Crimson Tide trailed almost the entire game after failing to score in the final three and a half minutes of the first half. Washington scored the final 12 points of the first half, then took the lead for good with over 16 minutes to play in the game.

The loss was the first for Alabama this season. The Crimson Tide, now 4-1, will host East Tennessee State at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Coleman Coliseum. Washington continues undefeated at 4-0.

Alabama put three men on the all-tournament team. Chuck Davis, who led Bama with 23 points in the championship game, was joined by the Tide's leading scorer in the tournament, Earnest Shelton, and Kennedy Winston.

Shelton was called for an offensive foul in the first half and then argued with the official, picking up a technical (which counts as a personal), his second and third fouls. Then early in the second half he was called for his fourth foul, earning him about 10 minutes on the bench. Even so, Shelton scored 17 points and his clutch free throw shooting and a couple of break-away lay-ups in the final minutes gave Alabama a chance to win.

Winston had 12 points. With two seconds to play, Alabama had the ball on an inbounds play at midcourt. The ball went to Winston who had to fire off a desperation shot for an attempt to tie the game and send it to overtime, but the effort was well off the mark.

Also in double figures for Alabama was freshman point guard Ron Steele.

Washington's Nate Robinson, who had 16 points against Alabama, was the tournament's most valuable player.

Alabama Coach Mark Gottfried said, "We've got to get a lot better."

Washington probably won the game because of the Huskies were able to take a lot more shots than Alabama, 65-47. Washington out-rebounded Alabama by only 29-26, but out-scrapped the Tide for loose balls and caused 15 Tide turnovers.

The Huskies are not known as a three-point shooting team, but Washington made 11 of 17 from behind the arc against Bama.

Gottfried was not happy with Alabama's defense. "The name of the game was their ability to make shots and we couldn't make stops," Gottfried said. "Where we've got to improve is defense."

The coach said, "This is disappointing. But this game will make us a better basketball team because it shows us where we need to improve. We have to learn from it and move on."

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