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Nasty Nati Reverses the Curse
Bearcats basketball alumni get a TBT win at Cintas Center
Tim Daniel is a local D-1 hoops writer covering Xavier, UC, NKU, Miami (OH), and the NBA G League. Formerly Editor-in-chief of 48 Minutes Basketball Network, Tim is now a member of the Riverfront podcast network. He hosts Late Night Reds every Sunday at 9 PM est.
Saturday's Game at the Cintas Center had all the feelings of a blast from the past. Nasty Nati, the team consisting of University of Cincinnati basketball alumni defeated Zip 'Em Up, the Xavier Musketeers alumni team, in the second round of The Basketball Tournament (TBT). Judging by the reaction of the crowd, this was obviously the greatest day in UC Basketball History since 1992.
Zip 'Em Up got off to a nice start early with a 6-0 scoring run, but from there, Nasty Nati took over and was dominant for a long stretch of the game, ending the first quarter with a 22-9 lead. Nati looked like they were going to take a big lead into the half, leading 34-19 with 2:30 remaining, but Zip 'Em Up managed to close the deficit to just seven points behind the scoring of Semaj Christon.
The third quarter was a turning point in the game. Both teams traded baskets, but with Nasty Nati holding a 45-44 lead with 4:03 to go, Remy Abell had his time to shine. Abell went on a 7-0 run all by himself, pushing Zip 'Em Up to a 49-45 lead. Jacob Evans started to consistently get to the rim to fight back before Abel made a few more baskets, though Mamadou Diarra stepped up to help Nasty Nati tie the game at 55 each going into the 4th quarter.
The fourth quarter was a nail-biter, with Jarron Cumberland and Evans hitting some big shots, and it began to look as if Nasty Nati was about to put the game away. But Zip 'Em Up stepped back up behind Center Kerem Kanter's eight points to take the Musketeer alumni into the Elam Ending down just two points. At this point, the first team to reach 75 points would win the game. Nasty Nati lead 65-63, then went on a run to get to just one point from victory after Troy Caupain made a layup. With the score 74-69, however, Zip 'Em Up once again rallied.
Christon was able to draw a foul and get a free throw (the Elam Ending rule gives the ball back to the team shooting a free throw). Nate Johnson once again displayed the magical shooting from his earlier days lighting up the Cintas Center to hit a huge three-point field goal and cut the Nati lead to just one, 74-73.
Kanter then fouled Caupain, putting him on the line with a chance to win the game, but Caupain missed the free-throw. That set the stage for Jacob Evans to show why he was a former 1st round pick in the NBA Draft, as he drained a tough three to walk-off and win the game for Nasty Nati.
Nasty Nati advances to the TBT regional final Monday evening at the Cintas Center vs The Program for Autism. Tip-off will be at 7 PM EST on ESPN