A poor performance during the Elam Ending portion in Friday’s quarterfinal of The Basketball Tournament ultimately brought an end to Best Virginia’s run in the annual event.
In what was a tight contest throughout, Red Scare rattled off the first seven points during the Elam Ending and outscored Best Virginia 8-3 for that stretch to claim a 67-60 victory at University of Dayton Arena.
“Winning is all in the margins and in close games, especially on the road, you can’t give the home team points,” Best Virginia coach James Long said. “A couple things that we did I thought would slow them down that they handled them pretty well. We all could’ve done some things better, but we gave them some points at some crucial times and they did a really good job of making us earn everything. There’s no feeling of we’re so much better than them. Red Scare did a really good job and earned it.”
Two free throws from Red Scare point guard Scoochie Smith allowed the Dayton-based alumni team to hold a 59-57 lead entering the Elam Ending, creating a target score of 67 for both squads.
Best Virginia turned the ball over on each of its first two possessions down the stretch, and after Jermaine Haley’s 3-pointer was off the mark, Jordan Sibert capitalized on a second-chance opportunity with a triple to give Red Scare a 62-57 lead. Sibert was fouled on the bucket, though he couldn’t convert the four-point play opportunity.
However, as was the case for long stretches of its first two TBT victories, Best Virginia struggled to defensive rebound, and Red Scare upped its lead to six when Trevor Thompson made 1-of-2 free throws following an offensive board during the sequence.
Jamel Morris attempted to cut the deficit in half with a 3 on the ensuing possession, but it missed the mark and was countered by a Darrell Davis triple that moved Red Scare to within one point of the win.
Although a Jaysean Paige triple brought Best Virginia to within 66-60, Juwan Staten was whistled for a shooting foul when Red Scare got the ball back, leading to Ryan Mikesell making the first free throw to seal the verdict.
“It was an away game experience and we haven’t felt that in a long time,” Long said. “Their fans were great and definitely impacted the game.”
After holding an early 8-7 lead following Flowers’ conventional three-point play, Best Virginia fell flat the remainder of the opening quarter, with Red Scare scoring the next nine points to build a 19-12 lead entering the second period.
Best Virginia then dug in defensively, holding Red Scare scoreless for better than 6 minutes of the frame and turning a nine-point deficit into a 25-21 lead during that time. That stretch was highlighted by Devin Ebanks’ conventional three-point play and 3s from Teyvon Myers and Morris.
Instead of maintaining its advantage until halftime, however, Best Virginia failed to score over the final 3:30 of the opening half and Red Scare settled for a 27-25 lead at the break.
Red Scare scored six unanswered third-quarter points, with Thompson responsible for a pair of field goals during that time, allowing them to extend what had been a two-point lead to 44-36.
Yet after a Mikesell 3 upped Red Scare’s lead to 49-41, Best Virginia again had an answer — this time with an 8-0 run that was predicated off strong defensive play. It featured Ebanks’ three-point play, a D’Angelo Hunter layup and Haley’s triple to knot the game at 49 ahead of the fourth.
“A lot of stress,” said Red Scare coach Joey Gruden. “I enjoyed it for like a two-minute span when we went on a run, but then it was back to stress.”
Neither team led by more than four before the Elam Ending, and Morris allowed Best Virginia to overcome a 57-53 deficit by scoring consecutive field goals, including a highlight-worthy layup through traffic.
Smith proved tough to handle for BV as the crafty point guard scored 10 straight points for his team after it faced a 51-49 deficit. That stretch featured a pair of 3s, a driving layup and the two free throws just ahead of the Elam Ending.
“Just sticking together like we always do,” Smith said. “We had that camaraderie and cohesiveness and the Flyer fans in the background going crazy.”
While Best Virginia shot 43 percent to Red Scare’s 39, the visitors had five more turnovers (13-8) and were out-rebounded 40-35, including 16-6 on the offensive end.
Red Scare also had a 22-9 advantage in second-chance points as it advanced to face Blue Collar U in a semifinal at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Smith led all players with 17 points and eight assists. Sibert scored 12, Davis added 11 and Thompson chipped in with 11 to go with a game-high seven rebounds. Mikesell contributed nine points and six boards.
Flowers led Best Virginia with 12 points, while Morris and Paige followed with nine apiece. Ebanks added eight in defeat.
“We all wanted to win something for Mountaineer nation and this hurts,” Long said. “The hardest part about TBT is there’s not a lot of prep time and once you’re in it, it all goes by really fast. When it’s done, it sucks that it’s over.”