Ram Nation falls short to Overseas Elite in The Basketball Tournament

Updated: August 2, 2017
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Photo credit: @CaresJaRon

With just eight teams remaining in The Basketball Tournament, where the winner receives a $2 million prize, Ram Nation stepped onto the court in Brooklyn, NY, to face two-time defending champion Overseas Elite.

On paper, the two teams matched up very well. The Ram Nation squad was filled with some of the finest players to come out of Virginia Commonwealth University, including Larry Sanders, Eric Maynor, Brandon Rozzell, Jamal Shuler and Jamie Skeen.

Sanders and Maynor are both former first-round picks and had stints playing in the NBA, while Rozzell, Shuler and Skeen have been productive players overseas. The Ram Nation team also had Reggie Williams, who led the college world in scoring two seasons straight while attending Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia. He has played in the NBA on and off for seven years, with his best seasons coming with the Golden State Warriors early in his career.

But the Overseas Elite team was also stacked: from Dejuan Blair to D.J. Kennedy to Errick McCollum II — the brother of Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum — to DeAndre Kane to Kyle Fogg, all of whom have decorated backgrounds and professional experience.

After cruising by its previous opponent, Ram Nation entered the game with an energized approach. VCU fans travel well whenever their team is in action, so former students (including myself) and family members were all in attendance.

Behind a 3-point surge from Rozzell, where he nailed his first six from behind the arc, Ram Nation jumped out to a 10-point lead in the first half and had all the momentum on its side. But the lead quickly evaporated before halftime — Overseas Elite is a tough-minded, resilient team.

Rozzell brought his A-game, scoring 23 points and going 7-of-12 from deep. He led Ram Nation in scoring, with Williams chipping in with 17 and Shuler adding 14. But Overseas Elite had six different players score in double figures, led by Fogg’s 26 points off the bench. Per usual, Kennedy played an all-around game and had a double-double of 11 points and 10 boards. Overseas Elite’s bench outscored Ram Nation’s 43-13, which turned out to be the biggest difference on the night.

Ram Nation led 62-52 with 11:14 remaining in the second half, then things started to unravel. Overseas Elite turned the defense up a notch, ran them off the 3-point line and forced a few turnovers, which led to easy fastbreak baskets. Ram Nation was also without its top post presence, as Skeen missed the majority of the game with an ankle injury. That caused Ram Nation to be a lot smaller inside; they were outrebounded 42 to 33.

Overseas Elite eventually seized control of the game down the stretch, going on a 17-0 run at one point, and pulled out an 86-79 victory. They followed that up by defeating the Syracuse alum team, Boeheim’s Army, in the semifinals.

Kennedy, Fogg & Co. now have a chance to win The Basketball Tournament for a third consecutive year. They’ll face Team Challenge ALS in the championship game Aug. 3 on ESPN.

Ram Nation coach Joey Rodriguez — who also had a successful career at VCU — and his staff, which included Bradford Burgess and high school basketball coach Corey Coffer, will get back to the drawing board as they expect to make another run at the $2 million prize next year.



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