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So Close: #1 Carmen’s Crew 66, #1 Golden Eagles 60

The Marquette alumni come unraveled in the Elam Ending and walk away without the TBT grand prize.

William Buford
William Buford (pictured) scored the win for Carmen’s Crew on a pair of free throws (not pictured).
The Basketball Tournament/TBT/

The run to the title game of The Basketball Tournament was fun and exciting, and the same can be said for 95% of Tuesday night’s championship game at Wintrust Arena. It was back and forth and up and down and lots of good and fun things happened.

And also the Marquette alumni team couldn’t hold onto the ball during the Elam Ending, which was neither good nor fun.

As a result, Carmen’s Crew, the Ohio State alumni team, easily outpaced Golden Eagles during the untimed finish. After William Buford calmly canned two free throws, it was 66-60 in favor of the guys in red and white, confetti was flying, and Carmen’s Crew was the winner of the $2 million winner-take-all prize.

What an amazing bummer of a final stretch.

It was 58-57 in favor of Carmen’s Crew when the Elam Ending began, but a big triple from Jamil Wilson off of a Dwight Buycks steal made it 60-58 in Marquette’s favor. That was good! As you can see, Golden Eagles would not score again. Three turnovers resulting in four Ohio State points pretty much spelled doom for the Marquette team, as that led to a 64-60 margin. At that point, it wasn’t impossible, but it required nothing but stops from them while scoring six unanswered points.

They got the first stop, on a massive block by Wilson on a potentially game-winning layup by David Lighty, but after missed threes by Wilson and Buycks, Buford came up with the rebound and a foul from Buycks gave up the chance for the win. Buford was the absolute worst person to foul there, as he had not — and eventually would not — miss a free throw attempt in the entire tournament.

If only the way the second quarter had gone could have been bottled up for the entire rest of the game. After trailing 16-8 at the end of the first period, Golden Eagles ripped off an 8-0 run early in the next quarter to jump right back into things. By the time the halftime horn sounded, things had totally turned around, putting Golden Eagles up two, 31-29, at the break.

But that electricity disappeared in the third quarter, and while it was tightly contested, it was clear that things were going to stay tight the rest of the way. That’s exactly what happened, and somehow, only the turnovers at the very end were what made the difference.

Four Golden Eagles players scored in double digits, led by 17 from Elgin Cook. Maurice Acker chipped in 13, missing just one shot all game, Jamil Wilson added 11, and Buycks had 10. Carmen’s Crew was led by 17 from Lighty, and Buford’s money winning freebies gave him 14 on the night.

It’s been four straight quarterfinals appearances for the MU alumni in TBT, with a semifinals trip last year and a title game appearance this year. What will next summer hold? For now, we wait to find out.

At least the traditional Marquette team starts up their European trip this weekend to help wind us back down into the rest of the offseason.