Releford, Alabama beat Charleston Southern 59-46

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Trevor Releford drained 22 points and Alabama earned a 59-46 victory over Charleston Southern Friday night in a nonconference showdown.

Releford hit 7 of 15 from the field, including 5 of 8 from beyond the arc for his second straight game with five 3-pointers. He also had six assists.

Trevor Lacey also had six helpers for the Crimson Tide (5-0), while Levi Randolph had 10 points and Carl Engstrom had eight rebounds.

"You have to give Charleston Southern credit," Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. "They came in and really got it. I was saying before the game that this is probably one of the hardest playing teams in terms of their ability to make hustle plays, offensive rebounds and their style of play.

"We knew that it was going to be a battle. I'm proud of our guys for their effort tonight. I thought in the second half, our defense really carried us."

Paul Gombwer and Saah Nimley had 10 points each for the Buccaneers (1-4).

Alabama scored the first nine points of the game but Charleston Southern (1-4) responded by outscoring the Crimson Tide 18-4 to take an 18-13 lead on a 3-point shot by Gombwer at the 8:55 mark.

The Crimson Tide went on another 9-0 run to regain the lead 22-18 on a short jump shot by Devonta Pollard at the 6:52 mark. After Malcolm Bernard made a layup to put the Buccaneers back in front 27-26, Randolph made a 3-pointer, Pollard a free throw and Releford back-to-back 3-point shots to give Alabama a 36-27 lead at the half.

"We struggled through the first half," Grant said. "At one point, I think we were 1 for 16 from the field. I thought our defense's intensity really carried us through."

In the last two games Releford has scored 47 points, shot 15 of 25 from the floor and made 10 of 13 from beyond the arc.

"He made some big shots," Grant said. "He is shooting the ball with confidence. (When he's doing that) he becomes extremely difficult to guard."

Charleston Southern opened the second half with five straight points to pull to within four, 36-32, but from that point on the Crimson Tide outscored the Buccaneers 23-14 to win going away.

"We're just out of rhythm," Charleston Southern coach Barclay Radebaugh said. "We have really struggled to score the ball and that's unlike us. We were 22nd in the country in scoring last year and tonight we score 46 points after scoring 57 last game. We've got to find some answers. I was disappointed with our offense late. It was a six-point game late and I felt like we imploded."

Alabama has started the season 5-0 for the second straight year, the first time the Crimson Tide has won its first five games in back-to-back seasons since 1995-96 and 1996-97.

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