Team Utah drops heartbreaker to Gonzaga team to open The Basketball Tournament

Friday , June 29, 2018 - 10:24 PM

Dakarai Tucker was sensational Friday but couldn’t make one last play for Team Utah in The Basketball Tournament.

Taking on six-seed Few Good Men — a Gonzaga-flavored team playing with a home-floor advantage in Spokane, Washington — Tucker scored 15 points in the second half and darted down the lane with Team Utah needing one point to win, appearing to have an opening to score a bucket and win the game.

But big-man and Washington product Robert Upshaw shuffled out of nowhere to swat Tucker’s attempt off the glass.

On the other end, Matt Bouldin was fouled, made both his free throws, and Few Good Men won 84-83.

The exciting finish was a product of the Elam Ending, an experimental way to end basketball games devised by mathematician Nick Elam.

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It goes like this: The first time play is stopped with the game clock under four minutes in the fourth quarter, the clock is turned off. Seven points are added to the winning team’s score to create the “target score.” The first team to reach the target score wins.

With the clock ticking under four minutes, Danny Berger — a former Utah State player — slashed through the lane for a tough bucket. Moments later, Akolda Manyang — a 7-footer who just graduated from Utah Valley — scored in the post to tie the game 77-77.

Few Good Men called timeout. Adding seven points, the winning “target score” became 84.

Tucker scored twice to put Team Utah up 81-79 to reach 23 points on the night. Manyang — who skillfully held off Upshaw and another ex-Gonzaga big man, Sam Dower — was put on the line and made his free throws to make it 83-81.

But Few Good Men would make a free throw, setting up the final sequence.

TBT is a 72-team tournament comprised of teams with players who are overseas professionals, former NBA and college players, or NBA players not currently under contract. The tournament is in its fifth year and the prize stash for the winning team is $2 million. All games air on ESPN networks or WatchESPN.com.

Team Utah also had Utes alums Tim Drisdom and Shaun Green, and Nick Covington, who played one season at Weber State.

Former BYU phenom Jimmer Fredette is suiting up for Team Fredette, a two-seed that doesn’t begin TBT play until July 21.

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