MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. — 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.
Morale Entertainment's Michael Whalen said the Notre Dame women's practice on Thursday morning was moved to warmer afternoon conditions because of condensation. Thursday night, organizers found little wrong with the court and thought things would be fine.
Matta 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."
NO. 7 NOTRE DAME 57,
NO. 19 OHIO STATE 51
Skylar Diggins may not have had the most points, but Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw knows why the Fighting Irish came out on top at the Carrier Classic.
Natalie Achonwa had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead Notre Dame.
Diggins, though, got the Irish off to a quick start in the second half, funneling the ball to Achonwa and Kayla McBride to build a 35-25 lead over the first four minutes of the period that Notre Dame would not give up.
"She's the one who directs us, manages the game, gets us in the offense," McGraw said. "She did a little bit of everything tonight."
McBride finished with 16 points and Diggins 11 as the Fighting Irish moved to 23-3 in season openers under McGraw.
The first women's game on an aircraft carrier wasn't easy for either team. The Yorktown was bathed in bright sunshine at the start, leaving players on both teams squinting. Once the sun set on Charleston Harbor, the converted flight deck turned downright chilly.
"I'm looking forward to getting back to playing indoors," Ohio State coach Jim Foster said with a smile.
Tayler Hill scored 15 of her 18 points in the second half for the Buckeyes.
Stokes added 10 points for Ohio State, which had won 17 straight season openers before this one. Ashley Adams finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State's Foster and McGraw both eagerly accepted the opportunity to open the season on the carrier, which served in World War II, Vietnam and recovered the astronauts of Apollo 8 in 1968 before she was decommissioned in 1970.
Both teams paid tribute to the military in their uniforms, the Buckeyes wearing a camouflage design while the Fighting Irish had camo accents down the sides with a red-white-and-blue USA on the back where their names are.
"This to all the women's troops," McGraw said. "There are a lot of women out there" in the military.
"It was great to play this game for something bigger than us," Diggins said.