Marquette’s Jae Crowder, a former star at South Georgia Tech, looks to pass in front of Gonzaga’s Robert Sacre during Friday’s All-Star game.
NEW ORLEANS — Jae Crowder found a way to balance fun with his competitive side.
The Big East player of the year scored 25 points to lead the East team to a 103-99 victory over the West in the Reese’s College All-Star game Friday.
“I’m competitive. I like to win, you know how that is. First half, just have fun. Second half, really play. That’s what we wanted to do,” said Crowder, who played junior college ball at South Georgia Tech in Americus. “This is my last time at the college stage. I just wanted to leave out on a good note instead of leaving out on the loss that I did due to the NCAA tournament round. So, I just wanted to have fun and get a win.”
The Golden Eagles lost to Florida in the West Regional semifinals, but Crowder’s next stop likely will be in the NBA after June’s draft.
“I’m just starting working out, working on my skills, get it up to the highest level it can be,” said Crowder, who will begin training in Florida on Tuesday. “Whatever happens, happens.”
Temple’s Ramone Moore added 15 points and nine rebounds for the East, coached by former Alabama and Arkansas-Little Rock coach Wimp Sanderson.
John Shurna scored 12 points, and Henry Sims, Scott Machado and Mitchell Watt had 11 apiece for the East.
“It was an All-Star game, but we all wanted to come in and play seriously for our coach, who took it upon himself to make us play hard,” Moore said. “It wasn’t just entertainment out here. We really wanted to get the win, and I’m glad we did.”
Ricardo Ratliffe of Missouri led the West with 21 points, which also got 16 points from Chace Stanback, 15 points and 18 rebounds from Wendell McKines and 10 apiece each from Casper Ware and Bradford Burgess.
Sanderson looked right at home on the sideline — complete with his scowl and trademark plaid jacket. He implored his team to play defense and said afterward that he had fun after the two days of practice.
“When you coach, you have to be yourself. You can’t be somebody else. A lot of people say I can’t be anybody else, because I ain’t got no personality,” Sanderson said. “The game is for the kids. I’m still a kid at heart when it comes to winning and losing, but the game is for the kids. I did the best I could to make it that way. I’ve still got a lot of whatever in me.”
Jorge Gutierrez capped a 6-0 run to tie the game for the West at 91 with 3:27 left, but his squad could never take the lead late in a game that neither team led by more than nine points.
Crowder hit a contested layup, and Moore added two free throws that put the East up 101-97 with 30 seconds left. On the next possession, Ware missed a 3-pointer and a layup before Ratliffe finally scored to cut it two with 7 seconds left.
Crowder was fouled, hitting both free throws with Machado shouting “It’s over!” as Crowder sank the second.
“It was two good teams, two stacked teams going at it,” Ratliffe said. “Unfortunately, they finished on top. My team played hard, their team played hard. It was an overall good game.”