College basketball returned to the flight deck of an aircraft carrier on Friday night as Gonzaga defeated Michigan State 64-63.
The Armed Forces Classic hosted the two men’s college basketball teams aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, located off the coast of San Diego at North Island Naval Air Station.
GONZAGA OVERCAME A 12-POINT DEFICIT
The two teams battled it out aboard the carrier as military personnel, family members and a select number of spectators were able to watch from makeshift stands. Just feet away of course was a massive drop from the carrier’s edge into the San Diego Bay.
The game lived up to the hype as Gonzaga was able to come back from a 12-point second half deficit, to defeat the Spartans in the final seconds. Michigan State guard Jaden Akins had a chance to win the game at the buzzer, but missed a three-pointer.
Gonzaga All-American center Drew Timme led his team by scoring 14 of his 22 points in the second half, helping lead a Bulldogs rally. Meanwhile, Michigan State center Mady Sissoko had 14 points and nine rebounds, before fouling out with 1:51 left to play.
Timme talked about the once-in-a-lifetime playing experience.
“It’s definitely something different. It’s something you don’t experience every day,” Timme said. “I think growing up playing in the park is something that helped us. And look, they had to play on it too. It wasn’t the prettiest game to watch but it was just put your nose in the dirt and keep going and don’t stop.”
CONCERNS ABOUT THE WIND
Earlier this week, both teams took part in a shootaround to get accustomed to the carrier’s settings.
MSU head coach Tom Izzo expressed his concern about the wind. Izzo telling reporters on Thursday after practice that, “It was a little windy, I’ll be honest with you,” while also mentioning that they were preparing for it to be chilly in the open air on the water.
For the most part, the wind didn’t affect the game besides one three-point shot that was blown off a bit.
This was the second time Izzo had played aboard an aircraft carrier. Back in 2011, his Spartans once again came up short, that time to the North Carolina Tar Heels 67-55.
However, coach Izzo understands that sometimes things are bigger than just a basketball game.
“We came here to play a game and yet play a game in front of people that sacrifice a hell of a lot more than we do,” Izzo said on Friday, which also was Veterans Day.