It wasn’t always pretty, but Best Virginia escaped WoCo Showtime Saturday afternoon at the Charleston Civic Center in a highly competitive first-round matchup in the 2021 The Basketball Tournament — proving nothing comes easy with West Virginia basketball.
Holding a 68-59 lead late in the contest, BV needed any sort of bucket, a lay-up, dunk, 3-pointer, mid-range jumper, whatever, to win their first-round matchup. With the teams required to reach 69 points for the win, based on the Elam Ending rule, BV allowed the team of Wofford alumni to claw back into the contest.
For reference, the Elam Ending is determined with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The leading team with four minutes remaining sets the standard, with eight points added to their sum to determine the winning score. So, with no shot or game clock, the winning score was set at 69 points — giving both teams a chance to win.
It wouldn’t be West Virginia basketball without Stress Virginia
— Best Virginia TBT & Final Fourcast Podcast (@finalfourcast) July 17, 2021
Led by former Wofford standout guard Fletcher McGee, WoCo climbed back into the contest. An and-one layup from WoCo’s Daniel Amigo closed the gap to a 68-62, and a turnover from BV’s Tarik Phillip allowed McGee to splash a deep three, narrowing the gap to just three points.
Some back-and-forth play would lead to McGee sinking a pair of free throws, leaving the contest at a “next shot wins” junction with a 68-67 score. BV’s Juwan Staten missed a jumper on the next possession and gave WoCo the chance to advance the ball and win the contest, but a blown play gave BV a fastbreak rush and Phillip fed teammate Kevin Jones for the game-winning bucket. BV won the first-round matchup 70-67.
WoCo raced out to an early lead against BV, holding a 15-12 advantage after the first quarter, but BV ended the quarter on a 6-0 run to close the gap late in the period. BV closed the gap in the second quarter and room the lead, entering halftime with a 30-29 advantage, helped by a late 3-point play from Chase Harler.
BV pushed their lead to double digits in the second half, consistently leading with a comfortable margin, until WoCo’s late push in the Elam Ending. Ultimately, BV did enough to squeeze past WoCo and secure a second-round matchup in the pursuit for $1 million dollars.
Jones led BV with 18 points, on 9-of-18 shooting, while John Flowers and Philip each added double-digit scoring, 15 and 11 points, respectively. Jones was a force on the glasses for BV, adding 13 rebounds while Philip added 10 rebounds of his own and four steals. Alex Rouff led BV with five assists on the day.
McGee led WoCo with 21 points on 5-of-8 shooting — all 3-pointers — while Keith Braxton scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a supporting role.
With the victory, the second of the day on ESPN following Herd That’s (Marshall) win over Team DRC (led by former NFL player Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie), BV will await the game between D2 (players from top Division II schools) and Bleed Virginia (led by talent from Richmond, VCU and Radford) at 7 p.m. today for their second-round matchup.