The Basketball Tournament 2020: Golden Eagles Beat Sideline Cancer for $1M Prize

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJuly 15, 2020

INDIANAPOLIS - MARCH 22:  Travis Diener #34 of Marquett celebrates with his teammates during the NCAA Tournament against University of Missouri on March 22, 2003 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. Marquette defeated Missouri 101-92 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Golden Eagles did what they were unable to do a year ago.

Win the championship game at The Basketball Tournament.

After losing to Carmen's Crew in last season's championship match, the No. 4 Golden Eagles squad that is largely spearheaded by former Marquette players defeated No. 22 Sideline Cancer 78-73 in Tuesday's title game in Columbus, Ohio.

The Golden Eagles claimed the winner-take-all $1 million prize in the 24-team, single-elimination tournament as a result.

Much of the drama at The Basketball Tournament comes in the form of the Elam Ending, which turns off the clock at the first dead ball with less than four minutes remaining and adds a target score of eight points more than the leading team's current score. From there, both sides play until one reaches that total, largely eliminating late-game fouls and dragging out the clock.

Tuesday's matchup was no different.

Remy Abell drilled a three for Sideline Cancer to tie the game at 70 heading into the Elam Ending, setting up a sprint to eight points with no clock.

It appeared as if his side would win when Marcus Keene connected on a deep three to go up one and pull within five points of victory, but Jamil Wilson and Travis Diener answered with back-to-back triples to end the game in a hurry.

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Diener helped lead Marquette to the Final Four alongside Dwyane Wade in the 2002-03 campaign, so it was no surprise he delivered in the clutch.

Despite falling short, Sideline Cancer made their mark as the Cinderella story of the tournament.

The No. 22 seed was the only team to advance to the semifinals without a bye and stunned the powerhouse and second-seeded Overseas Elite to reach the championship game. Overseas Elite has won The Basketball Tournament four times, featured seven-time NBA All-Star Joe Johnson and had lost just one time in the event's history prior to this year.

That didn't stop Sideline Cancer from overcoming a double-digit deficit and advancing when Maurice Creek hit a three to reach the Elam Ending total.

They found themselves in an immediate hole again Tuesday when the Golden Eagles scored the first eight points of the game.

Falling behind against a squad with playmakers in Wilson, Darius Johnson-Odom and Elgin Cook, among others, was a troubling sign for the underdog, but Sideline Cancer battled back and took a one-point lead into the half when Creek threw an inbound pass off a defender's back and scored at the buzzer.

Contributions from Creek and Abell were key because the Golden Eagles largely locked up Keene, who led Sideline Cancer offensively throughout the tournament, for much of the contest.

Creek continued to find the bottom of the basket in the third quarter as Sideline Cancer answered every Golden Eagles spurt and maintained their one-point advantage heading into the fourth.

Still, it was the Golden Eagles who made the biggest shots with the championship on the line.

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