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Boeheim’s Army earned its seventh trip to the quarterfinals with a win over Always a Brave on Wednesday. At one point, they doubled up the Bradley University alumni team, composed of veterans from three of the school’s NCAA Tournament berths.
Now, Boeheim’s Army will face the Golden Eagles this weekend in the quarterfinals in Dayton, Ohio. Here are three takeaways from Boeheim’s Army’s 69-54 win over Always a Brave:
Day and night shooting
Boeheim’s Army entered Wednesday night shooting 39.5% from the field, 0.2% better than Always a Brave. But in the first half, they shot at a 56% clip. That included a second-quarter where Boeheim’s Army went 8-for-12 from the field and 2-of-5 from long range. They turned the hot quarter into 21 points — the highest-scoring quarter of the game from either team.
Chris McCullough only shot one 3-pointer in his 16 games with Syracuse. So when he received a swing pass on the outer arc, the Always a Brave defenders backed off. Instead, he composed himself, taking a dribble before nailing a 3. The make gave Boeheim’s Army the lead and catalyzed a 10-3 run that they rode into the end of the first quarter.
But when the scoreboard flipped to the third quarter, Boeheim’s Army struggled to find the same success they did in the first 18 minutes. It took them nearly a quarter of gameplay to score their next 10 points. The 38.5% shooting percentage in the third quarter allowed Always a Brave to remain in the game.
Tyrese Rice’s turbulent play
In the first game of TBT play, Rice came off the bench to score 20 points and hit the final game-winning shot. But on Wednesday night, Boeheim’s Army found itself allowing too many fast break points. Rice drove toward the basket early in the first quarter. He hoisted up a layup and immediately looked to the baseline referee for a foul call. No whistle was blown, and Always a Brave found itself with a 5-on-4 advantage in transition. Andrew Warren nestled himself in the left corner behind the 3-point line, where he collected a bounce pass and drained a 3.
Rice finished with five turnovers in the first half and didn’t record a point through 10 minutes. But, two minutes into the third quarter, D.J. Kennedy found him in the corner for a 3-pointer — his first basket of the game. Rice leaned into his defender on the next possession, heaving up a desperation shot in an attempt to draw a foul. It hit the shot clock over the backboard, but no call was made.
He tried to take the final shot of the first half, dribbling in place at the top of the key. But when he took three steps to the right and fired a 3-pointer falling back, it missed, allowing Always a Brave to score two more points.
Devendorf makes an appearance
Eric Devendorf told ESPN’s Angel Gray that he doesn’t demand as much as he gets older. He is fine helping out where he can, but as his beard grays, starting and getting shots isn’t a priority, he said. And with the added talent of non-Syracuse alumni in the fold for the 2021 tournament, the SU legend has found himself on the bench more often than on the court.
He averaged only 9.7 minutes and four points through the first two rounds. Against Always a Brave, Devendorf found more playing time — and heftier statistics. In the second quarter, he drove in from the far side, spotted Andrew White III stationed on the other side of the 3-point line and fired a baseline bounce pass to him. White finished the play for his second straight 3. On the next possession, Keifer Sykes dished out to Devendorf, who nailed his own 3-pointer.
Devendorf finished 3-for-6 from the field and recorded three rebounds and two assists. Toward the end of the first quarter, Nate Kennell broke up an 8-0 run by Boeheim’s Army with a 3. In transition, Devendorf was following his defender before a hard foul sent him to the ground. His teammates began yelling with the Always a Brave players as the veteran slowly rose from the hardwood. His seven points were part of a 34-point performance from Boeheim’s Army’s bench.
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