Carmen’s Crew moved within two wins of a $2 million payday in The Basketball Tournament with a 79-71 win over team Eberlein Drive on Thursday night at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.

The team primarily comprised of former Ohio State men’s basketball players, after breezing through the first three rounds of TBT, fell behind early to last year’s runner-up and trailed 16-13 late in the first quarter before a Big Ten face provided a spark.

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With NBA veteran Dejuan Blair on the bench in early foul trouble for Eberlein Drive, former Illinois player Demetri McCamey made a pair of three-pointers in the final minute of the quarter to cap a 7-0 run that gave Carmen’s Crew a 20-16 lead it never relinquished.

By halftime, it was 43-29 as Carmen’s Crew poured on a 30-13 run to provide enough of a cushion when Eberlein Drive made a late push.

McCamey led Carmen’s Crew with 16 points and William Buford had 15, including a late three-pointer from deep in the right corner after the Elam Ending target score was set.

With the win, Carmen’s Crew returns to the final four of the tournament after reaching the semifinals two years ago.

It will play the winner of Thursday’s late game Sunday, and it might be down one player. Guard Jon Diebler, whose wife is due to give birth to twins shortly, was slated to return home after Thursday’s game, and his status for the remainder of the tournament is unknown.

Former Ohio State coach Thad Matta was on hand to see his former players in action.

Asked during a halftime interview if he was considering a return to coaching since being fired by Ohio State two years ago, Matta said, “We’ll see what happens. This year, my mind started going back to basketball. I’m still hoping things get cleaned up in the game.”

ajardy@dispatch.com

@AdamJardy