Former Marquette star Travis Diener just made his teammates $1 million richer.
Diener drilled a corner 3-pointer on Tuesday night during the final quarter — which used the Elam Ending scoring method — to secure a 78-73 win against Sideline Corner in The Basketball Tournament finals for the Golden Eagles, a team made up of former Marquette basketball players.
Diener, 38, played at Marquette from 2001-05, averaging 14.1 points and 5.1 assists while shooting better than 41% from behind the arc. He was selected in the second round of the 2005 draft by the Orlando Magic, and spent five seasons in the league.
“Before the play transpired at all, [Diener’s] looking at us like, ‘You guys wanna go win some money?’” coach Joe Chapman said of the final play. “It just so happened the ball fell in his hands, he couldn’t have made the extra pass. He’s wide open in the corner. He had time to put the laces right on the ball, and he just ... buckets. Game.”
Darius Johnson-Odom, who was named tournament MVP and Player of the Game after putting up 15 points while shooting 6-of-12 from the field, officially completed the transaction after the win to claim the tournament’s $1 million prize, too.
The Elam Ending format started at 70-70 on Tuesday night, and the first team to hit 78 was crowned the winner. Though Marcus Keene hit a 3-pointer early to put Sideline Cancer up by one after the Golden Eagles took a quick two-point lead, their scoring ended there. Golden Eagles forward Jamil Wilson drained a 3-pointer before Diener hit his, securing the win — their first championship in the winner-take-all tournament.
The Golden Eagles were the second-winningest team in TBT history coming into the annual summer tournament, too, but fell in last year’s title game after giving up an 8-0 run at the end of the game.
The team, according to ESPN, will split the $1 million prize evenly — with every player and coach pocketing about $90,000. General manager Daniel Fizgerald will bring home slightly less at $80,000.
The tournament was cut down from 64 teams to 24 teams this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Four replacement teams were used after teams initially in the tournament had to drop out of the field due to the coronavirus. All players and coaches were staying in a bubble near Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio — where every game was held — and only three of the 1,200 tests administered returned positive, according to ESPN.
"We didn't really have many expectations coming in. It's never been done before, not by us or anyone else," TBT founder Jonathan Mugar said, via ESPN. "We brought four extra teams into quarantine, lost four teams, along with a quarantine team. That shows you where our heads were in the weeks leading up to it. We were pretty well-prepared for it. We did our best to project what would happen and prepare."
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