Tide Runs Past Providence

Alabama scored 20 straight points, the final 14 of the first half and the first six of the second half, and held off a furious Providence rally as the second-ranked Crimson Tide took a 69-61 win over the Friars in Coleman Coliseum Saturday. Alabama is now 8-0 on the season, while Providence fell to 4-3.

All-America Erwin Dudley and Mo Williams scored 19 points each to pace the Alabama attack. Dudley had a double-double as he also pulled down 14 rebounds. Ryan Gomes had 21 points and 12 rebounds and Romauld Augustin 16 points for visiting Providence.

Alabama returns to action at 7 p.m. Monday, hosting Morehead State.

Providence scored nine straight points to take a 27-21 lead over Alabama with five minutes remaining in the first half. Bama then scored the final 14 points of the half to take a 35-27 lead at intermission. Two points in that run were scored on free throws by Williams after a technical fould was called on Providence Coach Tim Welsh. When Alab ama went ahead 29-27 on a three-point basketball by Terrance Meade with 2:42 to play in the first half it was the 10th and final lead change of the day. The Tide used excellent defense to key its run.

Providence Head Coach Tim Welsh saw that run as the key to the game. "A key point obviously was the end of the first half, start of the second half, the 20-0 run," Welsh said. "Other than that segment of the game, I thought we hung tough with them."

Dudley led all rebounders with 14. (AllSport)

Bama forced 11 first half turnovers and scored 16 points off those Providence miscues. "Right now I like our defense a lot," said Tide Head Coach Mike Gottfried.

Although Alabama's defensive intensity didn't produce many second half points, the Tide Bama never trailed after intermission. Bama's lead was as much as 16 points midway through the second period and the lead was 11 points with 1:39 to play. Providence connected on three field goals -- two of them three-point shots -- in that final minute and a half to make it a close game. The Friars cut Alabama's lead to only five points twice in the final 1:13.

"Their athleticism really jumps out at you," Welsh said of Alabama's team. "I thought our team battled pretty hard. We matched Alabama's toughness."

Both teams played aggressive defense. Alabama was able to connect on only 21 of 58 field goals (36.2 per cent) and only seven of 23 three-point shots (30.4 per cent). Providence actually out-scored Alabama from the field with 23-for-65 field goal shooting (35.4 per cent) and nine-for-27 (33.3 per cent) on three-pointers. The Tide had a big advantage of the free throw line, making 20-25 to only six-of-eight for the Friars. Providence blocked nine Alabama shots. Bama had five blocked shots, three of them by Kenny Walker. Both teams had 17 turnovers. Williams had five of Bama's turnovers, but the sophomore also had six of the Tide's 15 assists.

Providence made it tough on Alabama's inside players. Dudley hit only six of 16 shots, Kenny Walker only three of eight. But between them they made 10 of 13 free throws.

"He (Dudley) plays hard, comes up with big rebounds, he also makes his foul shots and those are things that a great post player does and it can be hard for the other team to manage," Gottfried said. "He got big rebounds for us on both ends."

"Dudley is not a glamorous player," Gottfried continued. "But he's going to compete with you so hard that by the end of the game he's gotten things done."

Alabama had a slight edge in rebounding, 45-37.

Bama had 26 points in the paint to 18 by Providence. The Tide had 20 points off turnovers, the Friars 12. Alabama had 18 second chance points, Providence 15. The visitors had four points off fast breaks, Alabama only two.

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