Men's Basketball, Sports, WVU Sports

Stevenson hits game-winner as Best Virginia holds off 1st-round upset

WHEELING — Shaking off some tired legs and a miscommunication moments earlier, Erik Stevenson nailed a 3-pointer Tuesday night that saved Best Virginia.

The WVU alumni team survived its first-round TBT game at Wesbanco Arena with a 70-68 victory against Dubois Dream.

It’s the fourth time Best Virginia advanced out of the first round in the $1 million winner-take-all tournament, this time in front of home fans in the Wheeling Regional after playing the last two years in Charleston.

Stevenson, who spent most of his summer playing in the NBA Summer League with the San Antonio Spurs, was a major reason why.

“I’m always looking for it,” said Stevenson, who had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. “Not in a selfish way, but in a confidence way. It’s always great to have guys who can make outside shots, so if you’re one of those guys, you’ve got to be ready to go.”

With former WVU men’s coach Bob Huggins in the stands — he signed autographs and took pictures with fans throughout the game — Stevenson came off a dribble-handoff from teammate Kevin Jones and nailed a 3-pointer from the wing to end it.

“People can say what they want, but that’s my guy,” Stevenson said of Huggins. “I love him to death. He changed my life. It was great to see him up there.”

Former WVU coach Bob Huggins in attendance during the TBT Tournament on Tuesday at the WesBanco Arena in Wheeling. (William Wotring/The Dominion Post)

As for the play, there was a miscommunication moments earlier when Best Virginia tried to run the same set, but instead settled for a missed a five-footer from Kevin Jones.

“We had a set we’ve been going to this week, but it’s a tricky subject with (Jones and Stevenson),” Best Virginia head coach James Long. “The first time around, we were kind of watching (Jones) in the post and we were waiting for another person, I won’t say who.”

The Elam Ending had already been set at 70 points and Dubois Dream led 68-67 when Jones’ shot came off the rim.

Now it was Dubois Dream with a chance to win it, and when Michael Weathers drove to the basket — he had been strong all game with 23 points — it looked like Dubois had a shot at an upset.

But Weathers’ shot was contested by Jones and his lay-up attempt rolled off the right side, where Stevenson grabbed the rebound and fell hard to the ground.

A held ball was called and Best Virginia had the possession arrow.

“That kid is athletic. He had a good day,” Stevenson said of Weathers. “I remember he came off the one leg and went into K.J., so I knew it was going to be short. Unless you’re way above the defender and going to dunk it, it’s most likely going to be short.”

It was, and the second time around, Best Virginia got the shot it wanted.

Jones, who led Best Virginia with 22 points and 12 rebounds, took in the pass at the left elbow and started to back down his defender.

Stevenson came around and Jones simply handed it off to him.

“We were supposed to run that the first time. Obviously we didn’t get that right,” Jones said. “We got it right the second time. My first thought was to not turn the ball over. I knew once I got it in his hand, I had all the confidence in the world in him. He knocked down the shot. It wasn’t a surprise to me.”

Best Virginia, the No. 1 seed in the regional, only led 36-35 at the half. Dubois Dream also came back from a 50-42 deficit late in the third quarter.

A 3-pointer from Jake Biss tied the game at 62 with four minutes remaining, which set the Elam Ending at 70, with the first team to reach it moving on.

Stevenson’s game-winner was the difference.

“I’m exhausted, to be honest,” he said. “Leg-wise, especially, and coming across the different time zones. The Gold and Blue, man, there’s nothing like it.

“It didn’t feel exactly like the Coliseum, but it was close to it. I got goosebumps, really.”

Marcus Weathers also added 23 points and 13 rebounds for Dubois, which fell to 0-4 all-time in TBT play.
Teyvon Myers added nine points and seven assists for Best Virginia, which is now 7-3 in TBT.

Herd That 86, Zoo Crew 71

Herd That survived a late rally and pulled away for an 86-71 victory Tuesday night against Zoo Crew in the TBT first round at Wesbanco Arena.

Rob Gray had 27 points to lead Herd That, an alumni team from Marshall University which is the No. 4 seed in the Wheeling Regional.

Zoo Crew, an alumni team from Pitt playing in its first-ever TBT, was led by Jamel Artis’ 21 points and Sam Young added 20.

Herd That, which led 24-11 at the end of the first quarter, advances to play Best Virginia at 7 p.m. Thursday for the right to advance to the round of 16.

It will be the second consecutive year the two teams have met in the TBT, with Best Virginia winning last year, 89-79.

Challenge ALS Florida 95, DawgTown 66

Brandon Robinson scored 20 points and added seven rebounds to lead Challenge ALS to the second round.

Challenge ALS — the No. 3 seed in the regional — finished 12 of 29 (41.4%) from 3-point range and finished with a 48-30 rebounding advantage.

DawgTown, an alumni team from Georgetown, struggled from the field, finishing 28 of 67 (41%) and trailed 51-31 at halftime.

Fletcher Magee, a former standout at Wofford, added 17 points for Challenge ALS. Jonathan Holton, a former WVU standout, added five points and four rebounds off the bench.

DawgTown had five players in double figures, led by Greg Whittington’s 13 points and nine rebounds.

Sideline Cancer 83, Ram Nation 72

Sideline Cancer went on a 47-23 run that went through the second and third quarters and connected on 11 3-pointers to advance to the second round.

Keve Aluma came off the bench to lead Sideline Cancer with 14 points and seven rebounds. Sideline Cancer, the No. 2 seed, won its 15th all-time TBT game with five players finishing in double figures.

Ram Nation, a VCU alumni team, held a 19-13 lead after the first quarter, but struggled from the field going 27 of 71 (38%).

Marcos Santos-Silva, who played at Texas Tech before transferring to VCU in college, finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds for Ram Nation.

Sideline Cancer advances to face ALS Challenge Florida at 9 p.m. Thursday.

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