TBT basketball: Stillwater Stars eliminated in opening round
Le’Bryan Nash was all smiles in the first quarter.
He hit falling jumpers. He made layups. He was doing it all.
And the Stillwater Stars were rolling in their inaugural The Basketball Tournament game. But the smiles were short-lived.
The Stars’ TBT experience came to a quick ending Saturday with an 87-71 loss to Brotherly Love in Columbus, Ohio.
“Obviously, we wanted to come out with a win but we didn’t,” Nash said. “It was a great experience. Hopefully, we’ll come back next year.”
Nash’s vintage performance — 30 points while making 12 of 18 shots — wasn’t enough to overcome Stillwater’s lack of depth.
The Oklahoma State alumni team had just seven players — three former Cowboys — after Markel Brown suffered an ankle injury and three others tested positive for COVID-19.
But Nash’s hot start put the Stars ahead after one quarter. He scored 11 points in the quarter and Stillwater led 26-18.
“When you get a chance to play the game you always love, it’s a good thing,” Nash said. “I think I smile a lot more now. I know in college I didn’t. Obviously, my game’s evolved.
“It’s also a part of freedom. It puts a smile on your face when you’re able to show off your entire game.”
Brotherly Love, the tournament’s 12th seed, battled back to take a halftime lead. It led by 16 entering the famous Elam Ending in the fourth quarter.
Brotherly Love was led by Khalif Wyatt, a former Temple star. Wyatt scored 27 points.
Former Kansas star Tyshawn Taylor also scored 16 points for the Stars. He was a strong complement to Nash.
They just weren’t enough.
“We knew we’d have to have (Nash) score with some of the losses we had coming in,” Stillwater coach Bryndon Manzer said. “A lot was put on his shoulders. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get enough offense around him — not because our guys weren’t capable — we just weren’t able to get things going.”