ANCHORAGE, Alaska Washington guard Nate Robinson was held seven points below his season average against No. 19 Alabama. Fortunately for the No. 22 Huskies, they've got a wealth of players in the backcourt.
Point guard Will Conroy scored 18 points, and Tre Simmons starting in place of the injured Brandon Roy added 15 to help No. 22 Washington beat Alabama 79-76 Saturday night in the final of the Carrs/Safeway Great Alaska Shootout. Robinson finished with 16 points and was selected the tournament's outstanding player.
Washington (4-0) led the entire second half but barely escaped overtime when Alabama's Kennedy Winston missed a wild 3-pointer from near midcourt at the buzzer.
The Huskies returned all five starters and their top seven scorers from last season's NCAA tournament team.
''We do things as a team,'' Washington coach Lorenzo Romar said. ''Our guys have bought into team, and we talk about (how) it is amazing what can be accomplished when no one gets the credit. Our guys have done a good job of that.
''Every guy's matured. Every guy's having more fun. I mean, you can see it all the way down the bench, all the way to our managers, everybody's face has this special glow to it.''
Conroy had six assists and hit consecutive 3-pointers down the stretch when Alabama (4-1) threatened to catch up.
''He has single-handedly won games for us over the last few years,'' Romar said. ''Second half, he hits one, then he hits two. He did that a couple years ago at Gonzaga on the road, he hit 32 points in an overtime game. He just went crazy.
''When he starts going like that, we give him the total freedom to make plays. So we didn't call anything, because he's perfectly capable of getting his own shot within the structure of what we're doing when he gets going.
Chuck Davis led Alabama (4-1) with 23 points and 19 rebounds, and Earnest Shelton added 17 points.
Both teams started slowly, with Alabama committing five turnovers and Washington four in the opening 5 minutes.
The Huskies led 21-19, but Alabama went on a 13-2 run to take a 33-24 lead. But with just over 3 minutes remaining, Robinson and Conroy hit long jump shots to start a 12-0 Washington and the Huskies closed the half leading 36-33.
Shelton picked up his fourth foul early in the second half and Washington slowly increased its lead. The Huskies matched their biggest lead of nine points, 64-55, when Robinson hit two free throws with 8:38 remaining.
But with about 6 minutes left, Robinson committed his third and fourth fouls and went to the bench. Alabama closed the gap to three at 74-71 behind four points by Ronald Steele and a jumper by Winston.
The Huskies took a 79-72 lead on Conroy's runner with 2:18 remaining, but Shelton made two baskets to cut it to 79-76 with 1:48 left.
After a timeout with 28 seconds remaining, Alabama inbounded the ball and worked it underneath to Davis, who backed in but could not convert. After a scramble underneath the basket, the Crimson Tide got the ball with 9 seconds remaining.
Shelton lost the ball at the top of the key and Robinson recovered on his knees but was called for traveling with 2 seconds remaining. Winston took the inbound pass near midcourt and missed on the last-second attempt.
''I think the story line tonight was the way Washington shot the ball,'' Alabama coach Mark Gottfried said. ''They made big shot after big shot. They made shots when they needed to make them.''
Peninsula Clarion ©2015. All Rights Reserved.