San Jose St. 60, No. 19 Alabama 59, OT
Dec. 28, 1996
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Olivier Saint-Jean came from Paris, by way of Ann Arbor. Thomas Lowery came from the Marines, including a stint in Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia.
The two San Jose State players followed unconventional recruiting paths, and now they're taking the Spartans on a very unexpected journey.
Saint-Jean scored 18 points and Lowery added 16 as San Jose State defeated No. 19 Alabama 60-59 Friday night, giving the Crimson Tide their first loss of the season.
Saint-Jean had a decisive layup with 1:40 left in overtime as San Jose State (7-2) reached tonight's championship game of the Cable Car Classic against Detroit Mercy, which defeated Santa Clara in the other first-round game.
Eric Washington had 23 points and Brian Williams had 20 for Alabama (10-1), which blew a five-point lead in the final six minutes of regulation.
It was the first time San Jose State had defeated a Top 25 team since Dec. 21, 1979, when the Spartans defeated Ralph Sampson and No. 12 Virginia 83-79 in the Cable Car Classic.
Last spring, Saint-Jean _ a Frenchman who spent his first collegiate season playing for Michigan _ led San Jose State into the NCAA tournament for the first time in 16 years.
``I'm so happy for the team,'' said Saint-Jean, who played despite having the flu. ``People tend to forget San Jose State has a basketball program. Now people will have to think about us as a serious basketball program.''
The 27-year-old Lowery, who also served in Japan, South Korea and Thailand, had never scored more than eight points in a college game.
Saint-Jean's layup gave the Spartans a 60-57 lead. Williams hit a 6-foot jumper with 1:15 left to pull the Crimson Tide within a point, and Alabama got the ball back with 35 seconds left and one last chance to win.
After a timeout, the Crimson Tide had trouble controlling the ball and had to settle for a long 3-point attempt by Williams. Alabama's Demetrius Alexander got the rebound in the corner and threw up an off-balance shot that missed as the clock ran out.
``I'm really proud of the team,'' said San Jose State coach Stan Morrison. ``It was a wonderful win for San Jose State.''
Washington, who scored Alabama's first 12 points of the game, hit two crucial 3-pointers and rejected an attempted dunk by Saint-Jean in the second half as Alabama seemed to be taking control of the game.
But a late 8-0 run by the Spartans, and two free throws by Lowery with 33 seconds left in regulation, forced the overtime.
``I feel like something ran over me. In fact, something did,'' said Alabama coach David Hobbs. ``It takes more than one or two guys. We didn't do the things we did to get ourselves in this position.''
Carl Pickett scored 23 points and Detroit Mercy (5-5) took control by hitting 10 3-pointers in the first half of an 84-77 win over Santa Clara (5-6) in the other first-round game Friday night.