INDIANAPOLIS – The No. 2 seed Alabama men’s basketball team dropped a heartbreaker in overtime to No. 11 seed UCLA, 88-78, in the 2021 NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 on Sunday night inside Hinkle Fieldhouse. With the loss, the Crimson Tide ended its historic season with a 26-7 overall record.
Alabama, ranked No. 5 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Top 25 polls, trailed by 11 at intermission but stormed back to take the lead midway through the second half. Trailing by three points in the final seconds, senior Alex Reese drilled a three-pointer to send the game to overtime. However, after holding the Bruins (21-9) to just 25 points through the entire second half, UCLA outscored Alabama 23-13 in the extra period to advance to the Elite Eight.
Guard Jahvon Quinerly led all scorers with 20 points off the bench, while John Petty Jr. finished with 16. Keon Ellis also had a solid game with 10 points and a game-high nine rebounds in the losing effort.
The Crimson Tide’s 26 victories tied for the second-most wins in program history, while UA secured the program’s first regular season Southeastern Conference championship since 2002, first SEC Tournament title since 1991 and first Sweet 16 appearance since 2004.
Coach Nate Oats Postgame Comments
“I’m really proud of our team. First off, give a lot of credit to UCLA. I have a ton of respect for (UCLA head coach) Mick Cronin going back all the way to me being a high school coach. His teams are always tough, hard-nosed and well prepared and I thought they were certainly that tonight. We weren’t good enough to beat them tonight. They hit a lot of tough shots and got stops when they needed to. They could’ve definitely folded after we had the momentum going into overtime but they didn’t. They came out and punched us in the mouth to start overtime. As far as our guys go, it’s been a historic season. I don’t want to see them walk out of this locker room with their heads down. You could make the argument that this is one of the best if not the best team in Alabama program history. These seniors and what they’ve meant to this program. They didn’t have to stick around and play for a guy that didn’t recruit them. They didn’t have to buy into what we were trying to sell. They did. I couldn’t be happier for what we were able to give our five seniors this year. The guys that will be back, let’s not forget this feeling. We were a lot better team than this. You have got to be great every night in March. It’s a one-game elimination tournament and sometimes the best team doesn’t always win. I’m really happy with the season, really proud of the guys and really disappointed with tonight.”
- The back-and-forth contest featured 11 ties and eight lead changes
- Alabama’s bench outscoring UCLA’s reserves 37-18, 20 of which came from Quinerly
- With the loss, Alabama finishes its season 26-7 overall and falls to 21-21 overall in its 21st NCAA Tournament appearance this year
- Alabama finished tied second overall for wins in program history, just one shy of 27, set by the 2001-02 team
- The Tide was outscored 23-13 in overtime with 11 of UCLA’s points in the extra period coming from the charity stripe (11-of-13)
- The 22 shot attempts from Quinerly were the most in his career and most by any UA player in a game this season
- Alabama shot just 11-of-25 (44 percent) from the free throw line while the Bruins shot 20-of-25 (80 percent) from the charity stripe including 11-of-13 in overtime
- UCLA drew two fouls on Herbert Jones in the first minute of the game and took an early 7-1 lead after the first four and a half minutes of play
- Alabama found its rhythm with a 14-0 run to take a 15-7 lead with 12:05 remaining in the opening stanza
- The Bruins responded with a mini 9-2 run to regain the 21-20 lead with 9:24 left in the first half
- After trading buckets, UCLA finished the opening stanza on a 15-2 run in the last six minutes to take the 40-29 lead into the locker room
- Quinerly led UA with 10 points off the bench
- Alabama began the final 20 minutes with a 11-0 run highlighted by a John Petty Jr. dunk that tied the game 40-40 with 15:11 left in the second half
- UCLA used a 9-2 spurt to pull ahead 49-42 with 11:10 left in the second half, but Alabama answered right back with a 9-0 run capped by an emphatic dunk from Juwan Gary that gave the Tide the 51-49 with 7:50 left to play
- The Bruins regained the lead, but the Tide drew even 56-56 with 5:23 to go before UCLA used a 4-0 spurt to go up 60-58 with 3:44 remaining
- The Tide held a 61-60 lead with 2:26 to play, but UCLA outscored UA 5-1 over the next 2:22 to take a 65-62 lead with four seconds left, setting up Reese’s dramatics
- UCLA opened the extra period on a 7-0 spurt to take a 72-65 lead in the first minute of overtime
- Alabama cut it to 74-70 with 2:05 left to go, but the Bruins went on a 7-0 run to seal the 88-78 victory for UCLA
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