The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

The student voice of Washington State University since 1895

The Daily Evergreen

Alabama-GCU play gritty, Crimson Tide move onto Sweet 16

Lopes shoot just 10% from three in loss
Mark Sears hushes the GCU student section after the Crimson Tide sealed the game, March 24, in Spokane, Wash.

The first 34 seconds of play between Alabama and GCU saw three missed field goals before a three-pointer by the Crimson Tide’s Mark Sears gave his team a 3-0 lead. In then took an additional two minutes to get the second basket of the game. 

Six-plus minutes in, the score was 3-6 and both teams looked like the lights might be too bright. At one point, GCU was shooting 7.14% from the field and Alabama was not much better, shooting 11.8% at one point early on. 

Both teams struggled mightily scoring in the early stages of the game, but Alabama wavered the storm better than the Lopes to secure their spot in the Sweet 16, winning 72-61 in a first-half slug fest.

GCU forward Lök Wur looks up after an official makes a foul call during a second-round match against Alabama, March 24, 2024, in Spokane, Wash.

“If you would have told me before the game we’re going to shoot 10 percent from three, 32 from the field, and 62 from the free-throw line and be up with six minutes left, there’s no way I would have believed you,” GCU head coach Bryce Drew said. 

GCU stayed in the game with their defensive pressure and benefited from several mental mistakes from Alabama. With 11:49 remaining in the first half, the referees called a technical foul on Bama head coach Nate Oats. Later, with 4:40 in the half, they called another technical, this time on Nick Pringle. 

“You got to be emotionally invested in the game without doing things that cost you points and stuff. That way we were good, I thought our bench was great,” Oats said. 

Alabama head coach Nate Oats yells at his defense to get into position, March 24, in Spokane, Wash.

The Antelopes further benefited from the stands, as for the second straight game, they had their flown-in student section creating havoc. The loudest part of the stadium, the Havocs played into their player’s energy and created a lot of back-and-forth with Alabama players, primarily Sears. 

Sears hushed the students on multiple occasions, with his most emphatic hushing come when the game had been efficiently decided, doing exactly his intention of silencing the crowd. 

“It was fun. That’s what basketball is all about, when the fans are going at it, and as a player, that’s part of the game and we love it,” Sears said. 

Several Alabama players recognized the impact the students had on the noise and crowd of the game, but Rylan Griffen said it did not impact the team’s confidence, as they understand where the game is truly played. 

“The game is played on the floor, [but] I just love the atmosphere. It doesn’t matter if we got fans for us or against us, just love the atmosphere,” Griffen said. 

The GCU Havocs, March 24, in Spokane, Wash.

Alabama went into the half up 38-30, getting their shooting percentage up to 36.9% by the end of the first 20 minutes. GCU still struggled, shooting 29.0% at half, but having 18 free throws attempted and making 10, they kept the deficit within double digits. 

While most of his teammates had massive cold streaks from the floor, Tyon Grant-Foster kept the Lopes afloat. He shot 5-of-11 from the field in the first half and scored 12 points, ending the game accounting for 47.5% of the team’s overall point total, scoring 29.

Grant-Foster led all players with his 29 points, but Sears quickly succeeded him. The Alabama guard had 26 points while grabbing 12 rebounds, leading the Crimson Tide in both categories. 

Sears rightfully gets a lot of the credit in leading this team, but he, and other teammates, said a more underappreciated player deserves some recognition. 

Mouhamed Dioubate played just four minutes in the first half. But as the second half progressed and his teammates began to find themselves in foul trouble, he came in and began to play lockdown defense. 

Alabama forward Mohamed Dioubate leans back to shoot between two GCU defenders, March 24, in Spokane, Wash.

“It’s March, you need everybody to step up. Mo, he probably didn’t play as much as he wanted to until the end, but he came in and he was ready,” Griffen said. “Being able to have guys like that to be able to help me keep me on the floor, not only just me, but pretty much everybody, is just great and that’s something that Coach preaches every single day.” 

Dioubate’s defense proved necessary, as GCU had a lead as late as when 5:24 remained on the clock. But, thanks to several clutch plays, Alabama outscored the Lopes 12-3 in the final five minutes. In the last 5:21 of play, Dioubate scored all nine of his points in the game, providing not only a defensive presence but a necessary offensive spark. 

Alabama is now Sweet 16 bound, but they have a daunting task in No. 1-seeded North Carolina coming up.

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About the Contributors
BRANDON WILLMAN, Multimedia editor
Brandon Willman is a junior multimedia journalism student from Vancouver, Washington. He started working as a sportswriter for the Daily Evergreen in Fall 2022 and worked as copy editor in spring 2023. Brandon was elected to be the Editor-in-chief starting in summer 2023 and served in the position from May 2023 to February 2024 before transitioning to the role of multimedia editor. He enjoys watching sports, backpacking, and watching horror movies.
COLE QUINN, Evergreen Sports Photographer
Cole Quinn is a photographer and columnist for the Daily Evergreen. Cole primarily shoots sports for the Daily Evergreen and writes album reviews in his spare time. Cole is a junior broadcast production major and sports communication minor from Snoqualmie, Washington. Cole started working for the Evergreen in the fall of 2020 as a photographer. Cole was the Photo Editor during his sophomore year and Deputy Photo Editor for the fall 2022 semester.