Carmen’s Crew fell short of their quest to capture their second The Basketball Tournament championship Saturday, enduring a tournament-ending 72-63 loss to No. 2 seed Friday Beers in the third round of the winner-take-all bracket.
Playing in front of Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann, who was seen in the UD Arena crowd Saturday, the Buckeye alumni team started strong, jumping out to a convincing first-half lead that stretched to as many as nine points in the early portion of the second quarter. Although Friday Beers would storm back to tie the game at 31 with 3:39 remaining in the second period, Carmen’s Crew would respond, embarking on an 8-3 run to close the half and enter the locker room up 39-34. Carmen’s Crew’s favorable first half was sparked by former Bowling Green forward Scott Thomas, who notched a team-high 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting in the game’s first 18 minutes.
The Ohio State alumni team’s success would quickly dissipate in the second half, however, due to some poor offensive play. Although Carmen’s Crew shot 51 percent from the field in the first half with six three-point makes, the team connected on just 35 percent of their shot attempts after the break. This lack of offense would allow Friday Beers to quickly turn the result in their favor.
With Carmen’s Crew holding onto a 43-37 lead with 6:47 remaining in the third frame, Friday Beers ignited a 16-point second-half swing across nine minutes of action, turning the six-point lead to a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit. Carmen’s Crew would attempt to mount a comeback in the final period, shaving the deficit down to just three points following a Thomas three-pointer at the 3:58 mark, but an immediate 8-2 run from Friday Beers clinched the win for the No. 2 seed and negated any hopes of the Scarlet and Gray advancing to the TBT quarterfinals.
Carmen’s Crew was led in the loss by former Buckeye forward Kaleb Wesson, who capped off his stellar TBT performance with a team-high 18 points along with two steals and one rebound. Wesson notched double-figures in points in all three games for Carmen’s Crew in his first tournament with the team. The alumni team’s only other double-digit scorer came from Thomas, who finished with 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc.
Carmen’s Crew will finish the tournament with former Ohio State shooting guard and 2019 TBT MVP William Buford failing to log a minute of game action. Buford was kept out of all three games due to an undisclosed injury.
Despite the defeat, head coach Jared Sullinger has already reaffirmed the team’s participation in the 2024 version of the tournament, proclaiming “Next year we (are) coming for what’s ours” on Twitter.