At long last, Colorado has returned to the Final Four.

Even though it may not be quite exactly how the CU basketball program envisioned achieving that benchmark, the group of alums comprising Team Colorado in The Basketball Tournament nonetheless is making their alma mater proud.

On Saturday, Team Colorado advanced to the Final Four of the winner-take-all TBT, overcoming two significant scoring droughts during the first half to post an 83-78 quarterfinal win against Team Utah in Philadelphia.

The former Buffaloes will face Always a Brave (alums from Bradley University) in New York on July 30. Team Colorado will play in the second semifinal at 5 p.m. MDT in a game that will air live in ESPN. The championship game is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 2.

For the third time in four TBT games Team Colorado was paced by Marcus Hall, who scored 22 points on a 9-for-20 showing from the floor. Hall also added four assists and scored seven of Team Colorado’s final 12 points as the former Buffs kept the alums from Utah at bay.

A Hall layup off a steal and an assist from Marcus Relphorde in the opening moments appeared to get Team Colorado off to an encouraging start, but Team Utah answered by scoring the next 12 points.

After staring 1-for-9 from the field, the former Buffs knocked down six in a row while battling back into a 24-24 tie with about six minutes remaining in the half. Yet once again Team Utah was able to put together a substantial run, using a 13-0 run en route to a 44-35 halftime lead.

However, Team Colorado was able to reverse those marks in the second half. A pair of Relphorde 3-pointers gave the CU alums their first lead since the opening moments at 46-45, and Team Colorado continued to hit big shots down the stretch as Utah attempted a comeback.

When Team Utah edged ahead 72-70 with just over four minutes remaining, Hall pulled Team Colorado even with a driving basket and Austin Dufault gave the former Buffs the lead for good with a 3-pointer.

One year after Team Colorado’s first excursion into The Basketball Tournament ended with a forgettable first-round loss, the CU alums are now just two wins away from taking home the $2 million payoff awaiting the tournament champion.

Pat Rooney: or