Ram Nation’s hope for a championship at The Basketball Tournament came to an end last night, 91-80, at the hands of defending champion Overseas Elite.
Ram Nation, made up mainly of former VCU players, started strong out of the gate before a late-first-half cold streak sent them into the locker room trailing by eight.
For the first few minutes of the second half, it appeared that Ram Nation coach and former VCU standout Joey Rodriguez (2007-11) had given some sort of Eric Taylor-inspired halftime speech, as the his team came out of the locker room red-hot, knocking down a barrage of three-pointers. Ram Nation began the second-half on an 11-0 run, before Overseas Elite abandoned its strategy of not playing defense.
Three-point shooting was Ram Nation’s saving grace and really the only reason this game was even close. As a team, it shot 13-29 from beyond the arc with the triumvirate of Bradford Burgess (2008-12), B.A. Walker (2003-07) and Darius Theus (2009-13) banging home three shots a piece from downtown. The three-point line was not kind to everyone however, as Brandon Rozzell (2007-11) shot an abysmal 1-8 from the perimeter.
The game was neck-and-neck for most of the second half before the Overseas Elite pulled away in the final minutes.
While Ram Nation’s goal of taking home a TBT championship and the $2 million prize that accompanies it were ultimately unsuccessful, their overall TBT experience was anything but. TBT presented VCU fans — and there are plenty of them — the opportunity to relive the excitement of the Rams’ Cinderella run to the 2011 Final Four. Ram Nation had the largest cheering section of any TBT team by far, highlighted by the Peppas, VCU’s legendary pep-band, making the trek up to Philadelphia to support the team.
Coach Joey Rodriguez is optimistic about Ram Nation’s TBT future.
The Overseas Elite improved to 12-0 all-time in TBT, and will face Trained to Go in the quarterfinals this Saturday for a chance to advance to the final four in New York next weekend.