ST. THOMAS, USVI — Tenth-ranked Alabama used the inside strength of Jermareo Davidson and Alonzo Gee, along with the smooth play of guard Ronald Steele to take a 72-60 win over Iowa in the semi-finals of the Paradise Jam.
Iowa will conclude play in the event in the consolation game Monday at 5 p.m. CT. Iowa falls to 2-1 on the season, while Alabama improves to 3-0. Iowa’s contest on Monday will also be televised by Fox College Sports.
Iowa started fast, jumping to a 9-3 lead in the opening minutes, getting baskets from four different players. Alabama tied the score at 9-9 with 15 minutes to play before Iowa built a 17-14 advantage on two free throws by Tyler Smith. Alabama would rally to lead by four on two occasions in the first half before holding a 32-31 margin at the break.
Tony Freeman hit a three-pointer to give Iowa a 34-32 lead early in the second half. Alabama’s Richard Hendrix answered with two baskets from the paint and Alabama led the rest of the way. The Crimson Tide led by 10 with 7:52 remaining, but could build no more than a 12 point advantage the rest of the way.
Gee led Alabama with 21 points, while Davidson added 15 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Steele ended the night with 18 points and six assists. Alabama shot 51% from the field and won the rebounding battle by a 39-31 margin. Alabama had 38 points in the paint.
Iowa’s inside game suffered as the Hawkeyes were in early foul trouble. Kurt Looby had three fouls in the first half, while Seth Gorney and Cyrus Tate each had two. Tate and Looby both picked up four fouls early in the second half.
Iowa shot just 37.5% from the field for the game, including 7-30 (23.3%) from three point range. Alabama held a 15-5 advantage from the free throw line, as Smith was the only Hawkeye player to shoot a free throw (5-6). The Hawkeye defense did force 17 Alabama turnovers.
“We got in early four trouble and we didn’t shot the ball well from the perimeter,” said Iowa Coach Steve Alford. “Alabama is a good, top ten team. It didn’t help with our early foul trouble, they were able to take advantage of that with their inside game. The foul trouble forced us to play more zone than we would like.”
Smith led Iowa for the second night in the tournament. The true freshman had 19 points, hitting 7-13 field goals and the 5-6 free throws. He added six rebounds, four assists and two steals. Freeman added 16 points and three assists and Seth Gorney, despite missing some time in the first half with a bruised knee, added 10 points.