The University of Dayton’s website lists four primary school colors, two of which are red and officially known as Glow Red and Red Scare. Ohio State, famously, calls its primary color scarlet.
Sunday afternoon at The Capital Center, as teams comprised of alumni from the two schools faced off in the regional championship of The Basketball Tournament, it was just red everywhere. In what would be an 85-71 win for Carmen’s Crew against Red Scare, the team of Ohio State alumni eliminated its Dayton counterpart to advance to the fourth round of the winner-take-all, $2 million tournament.
Was it a battle for pride between the two schools that famously faced off in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, where the Flyers knocked off the Buckeyes on a last-second shot? It depends on which side you ask.
“LaQuinton Ross told me we can call it even now,” Dayton’s Kendall Pollard said.
The crowd was roughly split 50-50, with each side occasionally seeming to have the larger presence. Four members of this year’s Ohio State team were in attendance, as were the coaches for both teams: Dayton’s Anthony Grant and Ohio State’s Chris Holtmann. Both made apperances on the ESPN broadcast, with Grant saying that “you can tell there’s a history between these two teams.”
It made for an electric environment, especially for mid-July.
“It was like a home and away game,” Carmen’s Crew leading scorer William Buford said. “They probably had more people than us. This was wonderful. Especially for the summer, a game like that.”
Aaron Craft was seemingly on center stage. A lightning rod during his playing days and an enduring Ohio State fan favorite, it was his missed shot at the buzzer in the tournament that sealed the Dayton win five years ago. On the eve of Sunday's game, he said it meant little extra to him other than a chance to advance in The Basketball Tournament.
As he knelt with his head down before the opening tip for a pregame prayer, each Dayton player tapped him on the head before taking their spots. Then it was on, and the fans were engaged. At one point, as the Ohio State fans had an “O-H-I-O” chant ringing around The Capital Center, the Dayton fans countered with a “Let’s Go Flyers” chant of their own, both vying for top volume.
“I heard ‘Let’s Go Flyers’ more than I heard ‘O-H-I-O,’ ” Pollard said. “That’s a credit to our fanbase. They travel well. If we would’ve won today, they’d have traveled to Chicago.”
The former Buckeyes heard the chants and the noise, but said they weren’t affected by the thought of any in-state pride.
“We didn’t really want to take it there,” Carmen’s Crew coach Jared Sullinger said. “We didn’t want to make it personal. We just made it about getting to the Elam Ending and winning the game.”
And fittingly, it ended with a Craft driving layup, scoring the final points through a foul as the crowd erupted. Many lingered long after the final whistle taking photos, David Lighty among them. As he made his way off the court, he threw his arms in the air for an “O-H.” Smiling as he sprinted toward the locker room, he was chased by the sound of an “I-O.”
It was louder than the “Let’s Go Flyers” chant that had just dissipated.