The Jimmer Fredette and Coach Rose reunion tour lives to see another day as Team Fredette downed the CitiTeam Blazers 99-96 in The Basketball Tournament.
After a slow start which saw the Blazers notch the game’s first two baskets, Team Fredette got into their groove thanks to four made free throws from University of Houston alum Rob Gray.
The Blazers put their feet on the gas pedal while Team Fredette struggled early, following up Gray’s free throws with a pair of made 3-pointers and a slam, extending their lead to 15-6 early on.
Team Fredette took their time before finding the scoresheet from behind the arc, tallying their first made 3-pointer with just 31 seconds remaining in the opening quarter. The lack of scoring from deep proved to be the difference-maker in the first quarter as Team Fredette finished 1 for 10 from deep while the Blazers went 6 for 14, allowing them to take a 30-15 lead into the second frame.
Team Fredette started the second quarter by doing exactly what they couldn’t in the first — burying a pair of threes, courtesy of Jeff Ledbetter. Gray notched another pair of free throws for Team Fredette, bringing them within 10.
With 7:27 remaining in the half, Ledbetter corralled an offensive rebound before being fouled, which was followed by a Steve Zack basket. Team Fredette’s speed overwhelmed the Blazers at the start of the second quarter as Gray continued to lead a balanced attack for Team Fredette, bringing them within seven with 5:26 to go in the second quarter.
An 8-0 run would put the Blazers back up by 15 with 3:48 remaining in the half, forcing Team Fredette to call a timeout. The Blazers’ size was a difference-maker late in the second quarter as Team Fredette played small ball with Gray, Jordan Crawford and Tu Holloway, who average a height of just 5-foot-9. This allowed the Blazers to control the rim on offense. The Blazers would finish the half on a 19-8 run, bringing the lead to 54-35.
Gray lead the Team Fredette offense with 14 points and two assists in the first half while Jeff Adrien and Malcolm Thomas both put 15 points on the board for the Blazers.
Adrien picked up in the second half right where he left off with an uncontested dunk, but Team Fredette quickly followed it up with a fadeaway jumper from Gray. The two teams traded threes before Gray made another heavily contested layup with 7:17 remaining in the third. Back-to-back Ledbetter threes helped Team Fredette to an 8-0 run, with Ledbetter leading the charge with his trio of threes early in the frame.
Jordan Crawford started pulling the trigger from deep under halfway through the frame, bringing Team Fredette within nine. Another Gray layup at 4:38, followed by another Crawford basket from downtown brought Team Fredette within six with just under four minutes remaining in the third.
Gibson gave the Blazers a three of their own, putting them back up by nine before a media timeout was called with 3:31 to go in the quarter.
Coming off of the timeout, Steve Zack made a pair of free throws bringing Team Fredette back within seven, but a Jerome Dyson 3-ball followed, giving the CitiField Blazers another double-digit lead.
Crawford turned on the jets with 2:21 remaining in the quarter, putting the whole Blazers team on their heals before catching everyone looking with a quick stop-and-go that gave him a clear lane to the basket for an easy lay-in. This forced a stoppage in play as the Blazers again saw their lead cut to seven.
Gray continued the charge for Team Fredette, netting a three and a driving layup on consecutive possessions. Jaylen Bland hit a three for the Blazers with 41 seconds remaining in the quarter, but this was quickly matched by another Crawford three. Team Fredette looked back on their 19-point halftime deficit, now trailing just 77-74 heading into the final nine minutes.
At the start of the final frame, Ledbetter drew the foul from behind the 3-point line, which was followed by a trio of made free throws to tie the game at 77. A Crawford layup gave Team Fredette the lead, which was immediately taken back by a Blazers three. This too was short-lived as Devonta Pollard took matters into his own hands with a two-handed slam, giving Team Fredette an 81-80 lead with 6:54 remaining.
A pair of threes for the Blazers gave them a five-point lead, and Jordan Crawford found himself in foul trouble as he picked up his fifth foul with 5:09 remaining. A controversial out of bounds call went the Blazers way, but they were unable to capitalize, allowing Gray to take the ball the other way and split the defense for a layup. Team Fredette retook the lead with yet another Pollard two-handed slam with 4:23 remaining, bringing the game to 87-86, forcing the Blazers to call a timeout.
The Blazers converted on a five-footer coming out of the timeout which was quickly followed up by a Pollard and-one, giving Team Fredette a 90-88 lead after he converted on his free throw.
The Elam Ending, a unique tournament rule, came into play at this point. This means that at the first clock stoppage with less than 4:00 to play, the clock is turned off and a target score is set at eight points above the leading team’s current score. The first team to reach the target score wins.
In this case, the first team to reach 98 points would win the game. A Pollard tip-in brought Team Fredette within six points of the win before Gibson converted on a three for the Blazers.
With the time clock turned off and the teams tied 94-94, Crawford drove the ball to the basket and drew a foul of his own, going 1-for-2 from the stripe. With the score at 95-94 and 98 points in sight, the Blazers went 0-for-2 from the stripe, holding the score at 95-94.
The ball back in Team Fredette’s hands, Gray brought the ball to the basket for the layup, bringing Team Fredette within one point of winning their first-round matchup following a 19-point halftime deficit. The Blazers converted on a pair of free throws, putting the potential last possession in the hands of Team Fredette.
With the game on the line, Crawford brought the ball over the 3-point line, crossed over his defender and nailed a step-back jumper to complete the comeback for Team Fredette.
Rob Gray finished with a game-high 31 points on 12 for 20 shooting, while Jordan Crawford posted 20 of his own with nine assists. Ledbetter added 20 more points to Team Fredette’s total, including five 3-pointers, and Pollard saw double digits with 14.
Team Fredette will now face Challenge ALS in the round of 32 with tipoff set for July 26th at 9 p.m.