Team Colorado falls short in The Basketball Tournament final

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With a $2 million prize on the line, Team Colorado fell just short.

But a month-long journey will pay dividends for years.

Marcus Hall had 24 points, and a late 3-pointer that could have sent the game to overtime just missed, as Team Colorado fell to defending champion Overseas Elite, 77-72, in The Basketball Tournament championship game at Fordham University.

Team Colorado held a 20-point lead in the first half, only for Overseas Elite to rally for a back-and-forth finish that the former Buffaloes had become accustomed to in this championship. After falling behind by two points mid-way through the second half, Hall sparked a 9-0 run that put Colorado back up 63-56 with about six minutes left.

Team Colorado’s foul trouble, and Overseas Elite’s ability to get to the line, hurt the former Buffs throughout the game. Overseas Elite made 26-of-32 free throws, including 14-of-17 in the second half. Team Colorado was a very respectable 9-of-11 from the stripe.

Despite Hall’s successes, he was in foul trouble most of the game, picking up his fourth during an Overseas Elite 7-0 run to tie the game at 63-63 with 4:27 left.

Hall briefly gave Team Colorado the lead back at 68-65 with a step-back 3-pointer, but Overseas Elite found their way back at the line and a clutch shot by D.J. Kennedy gave the defending champs a 75-70 lead with 20 seconds left.

Hall quickly cut to lead to three with a layup and what transpired next, almost put this game into legendary status. Team Colorado stole the inbounds pass, with enough time for Hall to get a good luck at what would have been his fifth 3-pointer, but it rimmed out. Team Colorado grabbed the offensive board, but couldn’t get another good look, as the Overseas Elite stole the ball and iced the game with a pair of Kyle Fogg free throws.

Austin Dufault had 16 points and six rebounds. Levi Knutson had 10 points off the bench, including a personal 5-0 run that helped Colorado build a 32-12 first-half lead.

But Hall picked up his third foul shortly thereafter, and combined with Dominique Coleman’s four fouls, the tide started to turn as Overseas Elite was able to cut the deficit to 46-36 at the break.

Kennedy led Overseas Elite with 18 points while Fogg finished with 17.

More than a dozen former Buffs, stretching three coaching eras, participated in the 64-team tournament. After a one-and-done showing in 2015, Team Colorado regrouped with a training camp at the Coors Events Center in late June. Followed were two wins in Los Angeles, two wins in Philadelphia and Saturday’s win over Always A Brave to play for it all Tuesday.

A who-is-who of Colorado basketball made up a good portion of the sell-out crowd Tuesday night. Current Colorado coach Tad Boyle was in attendance, as were former Buffs Nate Tomlinson, Andre Roberson, Cory Higgins, among others. Cameos by Chris Copeland and 2012 Pac-12 Tournament MVP Carlon Brown came earlier in the month.

Hall, Dufault, Coleman, Marcus Relphorde and Calvin Williams made up the starting lineup for most of the tournament. Off the bench ranged from the elder-statesman, Jayson Obazuaye, whose Colorado career ended more than a decade ago, to recent CU grad Shannon Sharpe. Richard Roby, CU’s co-all-time leading scorer played the first three games for Colorado before suffering a knee injury.

Prior to leaving for New York for the championship, coach Boyle reflected “You’re happy for all of those guys,” Boyle said. “But a lot of credit has to go to Trent Beckley and Beau Gamble. Those are two guys who are the epitome of team guys. They helped put this thing together and it wouldn’t happened without them. They didn’t play a lot when they were here, but the fact that they’re trying to tie all the eras of Colorado basketball together speaks volumes about what kind of guys they are.”

Boyle has made the process of building tradition around the program a priority since his arrival in Boulder six years ago. Gamble has said that was one reason he wanted to form Team Colorado.

“We want to get people from all eras talking about Colorado basketball,” Gamble said earlier this summer. “Our main goal is to reunite players and create that bond between all players from all the years.”

Featured Image Credit: CUBuffs.com

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