Best Virginia eliminated from TBT after third round loss to Team 23

West Virginia

Best Virginia’s second run at The Basketball Tournament has come to an end after falling in the third round to Team 23 in Charleston on Wednesday, 75-67.

The game was tight until the Elam Ending, with the lead staying within 10 points for either team until the end. Team 23 went on a tear during the ending, though, finishing the game off with 9-0 run to win it.

Best Virginia was renowned in TBT for its tough defense in ball pressure, but Team 23 found the soft spot with a hot hand making 61.2 percent of their shots — including a scoring 68 percent in the first half.

Best Virginia did seem as if it was in the driver’s seat for much of the second half, however. Coming out of the halftime break with a seven-point deficit, Team 23 opened with a quick and-one from Eric Griffin to go up by 10. John Flowers and Kevin Jones then took over and gave Best Virginia a 16-2 run, giving the team the lead and putting Best Virginia up by two possessions heading into the fourth quarter.

Jones led Best Virginia in scoring for the third time this tournament, notching 14 points on 5-of-12 shootings. He added two rebounds, an assist, a block and two steals to boot. Flowers added 11 points and four rebounds in the contest.

Much of Team 23’s offense came from guard Marcus Hall, who led the game with 20 points on 8-for-12 shooting. He got hot in the fourth quarter, making all five of his shots (including three from behind the three-point line) in that quarter for 13 points.

Nathan Adrian and Jamel Morris also had double-digits for Best Virginia. Adrian was an all-around motor for the squad, scoring 12 points and grabbing seven boards. Morris added 10 points on just five shot attempts, while snagging three rebounds.

Walt Lemon was the only other double-digit scorer for Team 23, adding 10 points, five rebounds and two assists.

Best Virginia’s run is the longest in the team’s short history, after making a quick push to the second round in 2019. As much as it hurt him to get eliminated, coach James Long was still in high spirits and proud of his fellow WVU alumni.

“At the end of the day, these guys have done a great job,” Long said. “They played with effort and they played together, and sometimes shots don’t fall.”

Team 23 moves on to the TBT Regional Final in Dayton, Ohio against Sideline Cancer, the defending champs from 2020. Sideline Cancer advanced after a dramatic Elam Ending in which guard Marcus Keene pulled up from the logo to take a one-point lead.

That game tips off at University of Dayton Arena on July 31.

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