MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (AP) — The game between No. 4 Ohio State and Marquette aboard the USS Yorktown at the Carrier Classic on Friday night was canceled because of moisture on the court.
After a wait of about an hour, referee John Cahill said the condensation on the converted flight deck could not be dried. He said it was in the best interest of the teams to call off the game.
The game was part of the second Carrier Classic. Earlier in the day, the No. 7 Notre Dame women defeated No. 19 Ohio State 57-51. There was no problem with the court during that game.
The contest raises money for several groups that help troops and veterans. It was a showcase for Veterans Day weekend.
Cahill said the decision was made in agreement with both coaches and athletic directors.
Players on both teams saw wet spots on the court during pregame warmups. Officials met with Ohio State coach Thad Matta and Marquette coach Buzz Williams several times as workers and volunteers grabbed anything they could to dry the surface.
After about a half-hour delay, Cahill and his crew put 20 more minutes back on the clock and players warmed up again. Still, the hardwood was moist and wet and all sides agreed it would be too dangerous to play.
Most of the 4,000 seats at the makeshift arena were full, many of them servicemen and women who received donated tickets. Ohio State’s players put on a dunk contest, guard Aaron Craft skying high for a jam as spectators snapped pictures on their cellphones.
After the game was canceled, the Buckeyes and the Golden Eagles came out to sign autographs and greet fans.
The contest was supposed to be one of the marquee events of college basketball’s opening weekend. Ohio State reached the Final Four last season while Marquette advanced to the NCAA’s round of 16 before losing to Florida.
Williams came to the court in Army style combat boots and both sides wore uniforms to honor the military and those who’ve served their country.
“It is disappointing,” Williams said. “But the health of our players is monumental.”
Athletic directors from both schools said they’d continue discussions about making up the game down the road, though not likely this season. Ohio State returns home to play Albany on Sunday while Marquette begins its home season the same day with Colgate.
Last year’s Carrier Classic took place on the USS Carl Vinson outside San Diego, President Barack Obama attending the contest between North Carolina and Michigan State. That game was under threat of bad weather, yet conditions held.
Morale Entertainment’s Michael Whalen said the Notre Dame women’s practice on Thursday morning was moved to warmer afternoon conditions because of condensation. But Thursday night, organizers found little wrong with the court and thought things would be fine.
“We were trying to do something good,” Whalen said. “This time, it didn’t work out.”
Matta took a different view. He said his players were exposed to troops who made sacrifices and warriors wounded in battle.
“Yeah, we didn’t get to play,” he said. “But maybe the purpose was served.”