Travis Diener got the honors on Wednesday night, stepping into a wide open three-pointer in transition thanks to a perfect pass from Maurice Acker to hit the Target Score and give top seeded Golden Eagles the 88-75 victory over #5 Autism Army in the round of 16 of The Basketball Tournament. With the win, the Marquette alumni team has reached at least the quarterfinal round in every single one of the six TBT events that they have entered.
It was a relatively easy 13 point win at the end, but it didn’t look that way for most of the game. In fact, Autism Army was up 23-19 at the end of the first quarter thank to a bucket by Ryan Pearson with less than 30 seconds to go in the frame, and Golden Eagles needed a floater at the horn by Matt Lojeski to go into halftime up 43-40.
Golden Eagles took over the game out of the locker room to start the third quarter. A three-pointer from noted three-point shooter Derrick Wilson got things going as the MU guys opened up the frame on an 8-0 run to stake themselves to a 51-40 lead. Autism Army would cut the margin back down to just seven at a couple of points in the third, but it was 72-61 at the end of the period, and that was after former St. John’s star D’Angelo Harrison got a layup to go with nine seconds left.
That layup is important because Harrison didn’t particularly care for the lack of call in his favor on it, and he was assessed a technical foul in between the two periods. Jamil Wilson sank the freebies before the fourth quarter started to make it a 13 point game once the clock started running. That lit a fire under Harrison, and he would score five of AA’s points on a 7-0 run to start the quarter and make a six point game, 74-68, with 7:25 left and/or 3:25 to go before the Elam Ending could begin.
Dwight Buycks answered with a free throw and then a three-pointer to make the lead get back into double digits again, and Lojeski got another floater, this one coming straight down the middle, to fall and after a tactical foul by the Golden Eagles, the Elam Ending was activated with the good guys up 80-70.
Autism Army would score twice in the untimed session. They got the first bucket, a three from Delroy James, and a layup from J’Covan Brown later on. In between the two, MU scored five points, thus setting the table for a big three-pointer to bring the game to an end, and that’s exactly what Diener did after Acker forced the turnover.
This was easily the worst defensive performance of the tournament so far for Golden Eagles, as they allowed more than a point per possession for the first time. Part of that is because Autism Army shot 38% from beyond the arc, part of that is because Autism Army got to 28% of their own misses, and part of that is because this was the most free-throwy of the three games so far. AA attempted 24 freebies, by far the most of any team in the three games that the MU guys have played, including their own performances. But Golden Eagles made up for it with stellar offense, knocking down 41% of their own threes after Diener’s Elam Ender to end up shooting a ridiculous 63% effective field goal percentage and rack up 1.29 points per possession in the game.
Dwight Buycks had it going all game long, scoring a game high 23 points on 9-for-15 shooting, including 3-for-5 from three-point land. Elgin Cook remained completely ridiculous for the MU guys, shooting 8-for-9 from the field to bring his field goal numbers up to 22-for-26 (85%) through three games. Jamil Wilson led the team with six rebounds to go with his 13 points, while Acker and Derrick Wilson were tops on the squad with four assists each.
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Up Next: Right now, all we know is that 1) the next game will be on Saturday, July 31st, 2) the game will be in Dayton, Ohio, and 3) the game is scheduled to start at 1pm Central with an ESPN broadcast. The opponent is up in the air, as the Illinois Regional is not quite done as of this typing. Golden Eagles will play the other team coming out of Peoria with a spot in the semifinals on the line, and right now, it’s looking like that’s going to be Boeheim’s Army. The Syracuse alumni team is up 38-26 on Always A Brave, the Bradley alumni team, late in the first half as I type this.