CHARLESTON, WV - Team 23 jumped out to an early 5-0 lead but that was quickly erased by Best Virginia as they went on a 13-2 run which was fueled by pressure defense and the deep ball. Nathan Adrian, Tarik Phillip, and Kevin Jones all hit a three during the run and as a team, Best Virginia hit five from deep, leading them to a 20-17 lead after one quarter of play.
The biggest concern coming into this game for Best Virginia was the athleticism that Team 23 has and the pace at which they want to play. In the 2nd quarter, Team 23 controlled the tempo and took advantage of a gassed Best Virginia bunch. Big man Raphiael Putney gave Best Virginia a ton of trouble on both ends of the floor chipping in seven first-half points to go along with two blocked shots.
Team 23 dominated the paint outscoring Best Virginia 22-10 inside and 27-17 for the quarter to hold a 44-37 edge going into the break.
Eric Griffin notched the first four points of the half to tack onto Team 23's lead but that was wiped away quickly with a massive 14-2 run by Best Virginia. Kevin Jones was masterful in the paint and contributed eight points during the run. Tarik Phillip tied the game up with a three-pointer right in front of the Best Virginia bench and on the following possession, Kevin Jones pulled off a Dirk Nowitzki-esque shot at the block which was the basket that gave them the lead, 51-49. Charles Mitchell swished back-to-back jumpers to tie the game up at 53 apiece but Best Virginia closed out the quarter on a mini 5-0 run thanks to a layup from Tarik Phillip and a wide-open three from Nathan Adrian.
Adrian continued to give Best Virginia really good minutes by getting all of the loose balls and playing excellent on-ball defense. He then hit a step-back, turnaround jumper that ballooned almost up into the rafters before going in. Jamel Morris added a free throw to bring the lead up to eight but Marcus Hall cut it back to just three with five points, including a three from the corner. A few minutes later, Hall drained another three, this time a heavily contested shot to give Team 23 a 66-65 lead heading into the Elam Ending, setting the target score at 74.
Adrian made the first basket in the Elam Ending but that was answered by five straight points from Marcus Hall. After a Best Virginia turnover, Eric Washington knocked down a tough shot under the basket to put Team 23 one basket away from the win. Adrian missed a three on the next Best Virginia possession and on the other end of the floor, Daniel Ochefu laid in the game-winner to eliminate Best Virginia from The Basketball Tournament.
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