No. 4 Alabama holds off No. 12 Grand Canyon, advances to Sweet 16

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 25 Mar, 2024 at 03:42 AM

Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Sears had 26 points, a season-best 12 rebounds and six assists to lead Alabama to a 72-61 victory over Grand Canyon on Sunday night in West Region second-round play at Spokane, Wash.

Rylan Griffen added 13 points for the fourth-seeded Crimson Tide (23-11), who scored the final 10 points of the game to hold off a charge by the Lopes.

Tyon Grant-Foster recorded 29 points, eight rebounds and three blocked shots for 12th-seeded Grand Canyon (30-5), which was a porous 2 of 20 from 3-point range.

Alabama will face No. 1 seed North Carolina in the Sweet 16 on Thursday in Los Angeles.

The Crimson Tide shot just 36.9 percent from the field and were 8 of 31 from 3-point range but were helped by a 50-41 rebounding margin. Mouhamed Dioubate scored all nine of his points in the last 5:21 to fuel Alabama.

"I was just playing hard and I got lost in the game, honestly," Dioubate said. "I wasn't thinking about scoring. I just let the game come to me."

In addition, the Lopes shot just 32.1 percent from the field and 62.2 percent (23 of 37) from the foul line. Grant-Foster made just 9 of 16 free-throw attempts.

Alabama guard Latrell Wrightsell Jr. departed with a head injury with 6:36 left in the first half and was ruled out a short time later. Wrightsell missed four games late in the season due to a concussion.

The Crimson Tide held a 48-39 lead after a corner trey by Sam Walters with 11:38 remaining in the game.

The Lopes scored 19 of the next 26 points. Grant-Foster converted a three-point play with 6:46 left to knot things at 55 and Collin Moore split two free throws 21 seconds later as Grand Canyon took its first lead since 9-7.

Grant-Foster made a contested shot to end the burst and give the Lopes a 58-55 edge with 6:03 left.

Alabama quickly answered with seven straight points. Dioubate scored five in a row to give the Crimson Tide a 62-58 advantage with 4:56 to play.

After Grand Canyon moved within one, Alabama put together the decisive 10-0 spurt.

"Yeah, I think we can handle some adversity," Alabama coach Nate Oats said. "There were plenty of times we could've quit. We got down there late and our guys kept fighting. I can't say enough about the group."

Dioubate scored four straight points and Nick Pringle followed with a dunk to give Alabama a 68-61 lead with 1:23 left. Sears and Grant Nelson each made two free throws to push the lead to 11 en route to closing it out.

Sears and Griffen each scored 13 first-half points as the Crimson Tide held a 38-30 advantage at the break.

Alabama closed the first half with a 10-2 burst to take the eight-point lead.

Grant-Foster had 12 points through the first 20 minutes of action for the Lopes.

"So much to be proud of for these guys," Grand Canyon coach Bryce Drew said. "You know what I'm really proud of is, I think tonight we got to experience and see our team, couldn't make a shot, didn't rebound great, but the guys never quit."

--Field Level Media