BROOKLYN — It was a familiar site for VCU in Brooklyn. The fans flocked north. The band, made of Peppas alumni, played all the VCU hits. Most importantly, the Rams emerged victorious in the city that might as well be their second home.
With a 79-64 win over the NC Prodigal Sons, Ram Nation, the VCU alumni team, advanced to the final eight of The Basketball Tournament.
NC Prodigal Sons came into the game as the upstart 14 seed, and early on, it looked like they could hang with the second-seeded Ram Nation. A three-point shooting barrage kept the underdogs in it, led by Sam Hinnant, who hit three triples in the first half. As a team, the NC Prodigal Sons were 8-16 from beyond the arc in the opening 18 minutes.
But Ram Nation used an inside-out attack, spurred by a tough defense and rowdy crowd, to seize momentum and a 44-38 lead at the half.
From there, the tide turned. NC Prodigal Sons went cold from deep, while Ram Nation got going in transition and inside. The VCU alumni outscored their opponents 42-18 in the paint. Reggie Williams led the way with 14 points and Jamie Skeen had 13 more. Jamal Shuler had 10 of Ram Nation’s 28 bench points.
“They were hugging us on the wings, which allowed our rollers to get easy buckets,” forward Reggie Williams said of the first half. “Then in the second half, [head coach Joey Rodriguez] ran a couple plays to try to us going. We made a couple shots and that was it.”
With the win, Ram Nation advances past the round it fell in last season, and will face the winner of Overseas Elite and the Tampa Bulls (USF alumni). Overseas Elite is the two-time defending TBT champion and beat Ram Nation in a thriller last year.