BALTIMORE — Jimmer Fredette doesn’t chew gum while he plays basketball.
If he did, his defenders Thursday night in the semifinals of The Basketball Tournament would know what flavor he prefers.
The fans came out to see the phenomenon that is Team Fredette’s namesake — who didn’t disappoint, despite being harassed by multiple defenders all evening — but it was TBT upstart Eberlein Drive and its juggernaut of a backcourt that stole the show.
As a result, Team Fredette’s $2 million dream died in the Talmadge L. Hill Field House at Morgan State University with an 80-76 loss to the seventh seed from the West Region, which advanced to the final of the single-elimination, winner-take-all extravaganza.
Fredette scored 24 points, nine fewer than his scoring average in TBT, on 8-for-14 shooting, and struggled to create the space he needed to get enough open looks.
“They were aggressive on me the whole game,” Fredette said. “It’s not always about shooting the ball. It’s about getting other guys involved and making sure you’re giving your team the best chance to win.”
Down 53-38 midway through the third quarter, Team Fredette clawed its way back in the game with a 13-0 run capped by a Jeff Ledbetter 3-pointer and driving layup by Fredette. Team Fredette, which never led throughout the contest, tied it at 67 after the 2011 National Player of the Year from BYU canned a pair of treys on back-to-back possessions, the first from 30 feet on the right wing in transition.
“It takes more than one guy to stop Jimmer,” said Eberlein Drive’s Donald Sloan, who competed against Fredette in the Chinese Basketball Association in 2016-17. “We threw four different guys at him, even a few bigs.”
Eberlein Drive took a 73-69 lead when the Elam Ending, named after a Ball State professor on a mission to revolutionize the way crunch time is played in basketball, took effect.
The Elam Ending dictates that, with four minutes left in the game, the clock shuts off and seven points are added to the leading team’s score. That total becomes the target score, and the first team to reach it wins.
With Eberlein Drive leading 78-76, James Michael McAdoo, who won two NBA championship rings with the Golden State Warriors, ended the game with a dunk in transition.
Sloan finished with 25 points, while Jerome Randle, the 2010 Pac-10 Player of the Year from California who is TBT’s second-leading scorer, added 16 points with a number of strong finishes at the rim for Eberlein Drive.
“We had a shot at the end,” said Fredette. “We just didn’t play well in the first half.”
Former BYU big man Brandon Davies scored 15 points for Team Fredette.
This is the fifth year of TBT, which featured 72 teams this summer, as well as more than 60 players with NBA experience. On Friday night, Eberlein Drive, which general manager Jacob Hirschmann named after the cul-de-sac he grew up on in suburban Detroit, will face Overseas Elite, which cruised past the Golden Eagles Alumni, 85-60, in the first semifinal.
Overseas Elite, the three-time defending champion, has won 24 consecutive games in TBT and pocketed $5 million over the past three summers.
“The only team that can beat us in this tournament,” said Overseas Elite coach Marc Hughes, “is us.”