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Mar 22, 2024 10:45 pm

Mark Sears scores 30 as Alabama overwhelms Charleston

Alabama, Charleston

Mark Sears poured in 30 points and the nation’s top-scoring team was in high gear Friday as Alabama rolled to a convincing 109-96 victory over Charleston in West Region first-round play at Spokane, Wash.

Latrell Wrightsell Jr. made 5 of 6 3-point attempts while adding 17 points for fourth-seeded Alabama (22-11), Aaron Estrada added 13 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for the Crimson Tide, who entered the contest averaging 90.8 points per game and set a school mark for most points in an NCAA Tournament game.

Ben Burnham scored 19 points for the 13th-seeded Cougars (27-8), who had their 12-game winning streak halted. Frankie Policelli tallied 15 points for Charleston.

Kobe Rodgers added 14 points and three steals for the Cougars before exiting with a knee injury with 4:07 remaining. Reyne Smith added 13 points, James Scott had 11 and Bryce Butler had 10 for Charleston.

Alabama will face either No. 5 Saint Mary’s or No. 12 Grand Canyon in Sunday’s second round.

The Crimson Tide shot a blistering 60 percent from the field and knocked down 13 of 23 3-point attempts (56.5 percent) while reaching the 100-point mark for the 10th time this season.

Sears was 9 of 13 from the field — including 3 of 6 from 3-point range — and 9 of 11 from the free-throw line while notching his fourth 30-point game of the season.

Alabama led by as many as 31 before Charleston narrowed the margin late in the game.

The Cougars made 41 percent of their shots and were 10 of 33 (30.3 percent) from behind the arc.

Charleston trailed by 17 at halftime before scoring six of the first eight in the second half to move within 53-40.

Sears responded with the last five points of a 7-0 run that gave Alabama’s its first 20-point lead.

Wrightsell later drained a 3-pointer to push the lead to 75-51 with 13:27 remaining. The lead went over 30 when Estrada drilled a trey to make it 95-64 with 7:49 left.

Sears scored 20 first-half points on 6-of-8 shooting as Alabama led 51-34 at the break. The Crimson Tide shot 55.2 percent in the half while the Cougars checked in at 33.3 percent.

Charleston led 19-13 after a basket by Butler with 12:40 remaining in the first half before Alabama answered with a 21-7 burst to lead by eight with 5:54 left.

The Crimson Tide later rattled off 12 straight points as the lead grew to 15 with 1:53 remaining until the break.

–Field Level Media

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