Red Scare pulls away, beats Big X 77-68 to advance to TBT quarterfinals

Ryan Mikesell (#33) shows his enjoyment alongside Trevor Thompson (#21) during the Red Scare’s 77-68 in the TBT Round of 16. Photo courtesy of Ben Solomon.

Peter Burtnett
Sports Editor

The Red Scare TBT team pulled away with a barrage of threes in the Elam Ending to defeat Big X 77-68 in Wednesday afternoon’s Round of 16 TBT action at an empty Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Made up of several UD men’s basketball alumni, Red Scare grabbed a 15-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. They expanded that lead to 21-13 midway through the second quarter before a 14-3 Big X run turned the game temporarily on its head and gave the Big Ten alumni a 27-24 lead with 3:20 left in the second quarter.

A three from Louisville alum Ryan McMahon, who often had the hot hand for Red Scare and finished with 12 points, tied the game at 27, but post play from Nick Ward (Michigan State alum; 9 points and 3 rebounds in the first half) gave Big X a 38-33 lead at halftime.

Red Scare coach and general manager Joey Gruden, son of NFL head coach Jay Gruden and nephew of famous Flyer Jon Gruden, told ESPN reporter Jen Hale his team was “shaking off the rust” in the first half as many of the players played in their first competitive action in months.

“The first year [in TBT], you get your feet wet,” Gruden said. “But you don’t understand what it’s like until you’re in it. But we’ve got guys who made bug shots late.”

For Trey Landers and Ryan Mikesell, glue guys for the historic 2019-20 season, it was the first time Flyer fans saw the two playing together in a competitive game since senior night against George Washington on March 7. 

Both Landers and Mikesell had an important role to play in a second half surge that gave Red Scare breathing room heading into Elam Ending, but more on that later.

In the third quarter, UD men’s basketball head coach and National Coach of the Year Anthony Grant joined the ESPN broadcast as Landers fought for an and-one in the post, which gave Red Scare a 41-40 lead with 5:15 left in the quarter.

Just over a minute later, Mikesell hit a three in the corner for his first three-pointer in a game since he bailed one in the final shot of his college career in the aforementioned GW game, tying the game at 44 with 3:30 left in the third quarter.

The remainder of the quarter was back-and-forth action, with threes raining down for both teams as McMahon and Kyle Davis knocked down one each. A three for Big X closed out the quarter to give the Big Ten alumni the lead, 57-55, with one quarter left.

The teams continued to exchange threes to begin the fourth quarter, as a Mikesell three was followed by one from Trevon Hughes (who led Big X with 20 points) to give Big X a 62-60 lead with 6:30 remaining in the game, which would be their last lead of the game.

Devin Oliver, who finished with 9 points and 8 rebounds, knocked down a pair of free throws to tie the game at 62 before Darrell Davis – 15 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds – knocked down two more to give Red Scare the lead for good at 64-62 with five minutes left.

Kyle Davis got just two points of a possible three on an and-one opportunity before Darrell Davis was fouled after grabbing a steal and knocked down one free throw to give Red Scare a 67-62 lead lead with 4:15 left.

The UD alumni held the lead going into Elam Ending, which begins with four minutes left and sets the point total goal at eight more than whatever total the winning team has (in this case, 75).

Red Scare immediately heated up at the beginning of this period, with two quick threes from Darrell Davis to move them within two of winning the game. Native son of Dayton and recent graduate Landed had the chance to win the game at the line for Red Scare, but missed the first of two free throws, making the second to pull the goal score to within one.

Big X decided to make things interesting with a pair of their own threes to cut their deficit to 74-68, but Mikesell – who finished with 14 points – was found wide open in the corner by Darrell Davis and moved Red Scare into the TBT quarterfinals, where they will face House of Paign, who shocked Carmen’s Crew 76-68.

After the game, Mikesell said it, “felt great to get back out there” after the conclusion of the 2019-20 Flyers’ season left a “sour taste” in his mouth.

As the team prepares for their next match-up, Gruden said the team is “going to play hard” in their next game, which will be against an upset-happy House of Paign.

“That’s what Dayton basketball is, and that’s what we did today,” Gruden said.

Red Scare will play House of Paign on July 10 at 4 p.m.