Khánh Nguyễn/ The Sunflower
The Aftershocks won in thrilling fashion on Sunday, defeating the Omaha Blue Crew, a team made up of Creighton alumni, 76-73, in the second round of The Basketball Tournament in Wichita.
In the first half, the Aftershocks found themselves down by five points heading into the locker room, despite having a much better night offensively than two nights ago.
The Blue Crew were able to maintain their advantage for most of the second half, heading into the Elam Ending with a 67-63 lead and the Target Score set at 75. The Aftershocks would quickly tie the game up at 69, however, following a pair of three-pointers from Conner Frankamp.
On the ensuing possession, Markis McDuffie picked up a pivotal technical foul, following a questionable charge call.
“I didn’t mean to get that technical foul, it was kind of in the moment of the game,” McDuffie said. “The game was just so intense, credit to the refs, they did a great job. The game was just going so fast, I think I got caught up in trying to demonstrate what happened.”
Admon Gilder sunk both of the free throws from the technical foul and Gregory Smith converted on a layup to give the Blue Crew a 73-69, while being two points away from a victory.
McDuffie was crucial on defense in the possessions to follow, forcing a couple steals and turnovers to keep the Aftershocks in it.
“I really got nervous because the game went to 75 so I didn’t want that to hurt my team,” McDuffie said. “I was just like, I’ve got to make them turn it over, I’ve got to get the ball back. The game became really tight and I just wanted to be the best I could be defensively to finish this game.”
McDuffie’s defensive efforts paid off in the waning moments of the game. The Aftershocks rallied to take a 74-73 lead but Omaha had another look to end the game. McDuffie then stole the ball on the ensuing inbound and passed the ball to Frankamp, who sealed the win.
“There were a lot of emotions the entire ending, especially the Elam Ending,” Frankamp said. “The final five seconds were maybe the craziest five seconds and I’ve played a lot of basketball in my life. We stayed together after we had that turnover and we got one more stop and were able to win that game.”
Aftershocks head coach Zach Bush said the WSU alumni’s ability to stick together during their struggles was critical in pulling out the victory.
“That was emotional, that was highs and lows, everything you want out of a Creighton-Wichita State matchup,” Bush said. “It went down to the end, unbelievable finish, Markis made up for what happened late, Conner was unbelievable down the stretch. Guys just stuck together and found a way to get stops and score.”
Frankamp was crucial down the stretch for the Aftershocks, scoring 11 of his 24 points during the Elam Ending.
Bush said that growing up, he always knew that Frankamp could turn into this caliber of player.
“We played together growing up when we were really young, so I felt like I knew what Conner was capable of and was going to be,” Bush said. “So, over the years he’s faced his hardships and overcome things. I think we all have the utmost respect for him, his game and who he is as a player. To see him get to do this is so cool.”
“To see these guys react that way and how much fun they have playing together, that’s what we kept talking about. We don’t want this week to stop, this is so much fun getting to hang out with these guys and play in front of these awesome fans.”
The Aftershocks now advance to play Team Challenge ALS on Tuesday at 8 p.m. in hopes of advancing to the quarterfinals of the TBT in Dayton.