Notre Dame men's basketball alumni reach title game

TOM NOIE
South Bend Tribune

A group of former Notre Dame men’s basketball players is one win away from capturing the $500,000 top prize in the inaugural The Basketball Tournament.

Playing under the team name of Notre Dame Fighting Alumni, seven former Irish won four games over three days in the 32-team field at Philadelphia University to advance to the winner-take-all $500,000 championship game, which will be held June 28.

The former Irish have pledged to donate $100,000 to charity.

A fan vote at www.thetournament.com will determine where the championship game will be played.

Former Irish guard Russell Carter scored 20 points with seven rebounds and three steals and swingman Ryan Ayers added 14 points, two rebounds and two steals in Notre Dame’s 91-61 semifinal victory Sunday afternoon over PeacePlayers International.

Single-elimination tournament play commenced Friday and featured two games on Saturday.

The Irish alumni team, which also includes guard Tory Jackson, power forwards Rob Kurz, Zach Hillesland and Ty Nash and point guard Chris Thomas, won games by scores of 78-66, 75-66 and 74-69. Guard Colin Falls and power forward Torin Francis are on the official roster for the tournament but did not play in any of the four games.

After playing professionally in Turkey this past season, Francis moved to a team in Venezuela and was still involved in postseason.

Former Seton Hall guard Paul Gause is the only non-Notre Dame player on the team, whose general manager is former Irish walk-on Kieran Piller. Former Irish power forward Jordan Cornette is listed as coach.

Gause had 10 points, five assists and three rebounds Sunday.

Six players, including Gause, averaged at least 10.7 points a game during the tournament. Ayers led the Irish in scoring (14.2) and rebounding (5.0). Thomas averaged a team-best 4.5 assists.

Notre Dame averaged 79.5 points, 14.0 assists, 13.5 turnovers and 9.0 steals in four games.

Notre Dame will face in the championship a Team Barstool squad loaded with familiar faces including a starting five of guards Andre Barrett (Seton Hall) and Donnie McGrath (Providence), small forwards Dahntay Jones (Duke) and Matt Walsh (Florida ) and power forward Josh Boone (Connecticut). Also listed on the roster are Justin Burrell (St. John’s) and Quincy Douby (Rutgers).

Team Barstool advanced to the championship with an 87-81 victory over a Big Apple team that featured former NBA guard Smush Parker.

Fan voting helped determine 24 of the 32 teams in the field. Team Barstool finished first on the tournament’s web site with 1,841 fans. Notre Dame Fighting Alumni had 480.

Guard Chris Thomas is among the former Notre Dame players who are one win away from earning the top prize of $500,000 in The Basketball Tournament.(Photo by Getty Images)