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After not leading for the entirety of the game against No. 1 seed Golden Eagles, No. 3 seed Boeheim’s Army bounced back in the Elam Ending to win 73-69 in the quarterfinals of The Basketball Tournament. Tyrese Rice led the team off with 20 points and one assist.
Here are three takeaways from Boeheim’s Army’s victory over Golden Eagles:
Tyrese Rice, Keifer Sykes carry the load
In each game of the tournament, Boeheim’s Army has had a different guard step up and dominate on the court. First it was Rice, who had 20 points in BA’s opening win over Forces of Seoul. Then Sykes put up 17 points against Team Heartfire and 10 against Always a Brave.
Against the Golden Eagles, Boeheim’s Army didn’t need just one of those guards to perform, they needed both. And after the opening quarter, Rice answered the call first.
Rice controlled Boeheim’s Army’s offense in the second quarter by positioning himself at the top of the key and dribbling until he found an opening. Most of the time nothing opened up, but Rice then took the game into his own hands, using his speed to make space. It didn’t matter which defender was on Rice. He would find a way to get past them or step back to create a good shot opportunity.
Rice hit from deep in the second half as Boeheim’s Army cut on the Golden Eagles lead. Halfway through the third quarter, Rice was 5-for-10 from the field as BA’s best scorer with 12 points. Sykes contributed too, taking over the role of facilitator after Rice stepped off the floor. Following a 10-0 run from the Golden Eagles, Sykes hit C.J. Fair for a layup and then a three-pointer on the next possession to bring BA within six points.
At the start of the Elam Ending, Rice took over facilitating duties again, this time hitting a layup — tying the game — and then two free throws on the next possession, giving Boeheim’s Army its first lead of the entire game. Rice dominated with a layup and the final floater which sent Boeheim’s Army to the semifinals and the defending champs home.
Second half improvements
Although Boeheim’s Army improved defensively throughout the first half, BA struggled offensively from deep and at the free-throw line.
Eventually, BA found open looks, but only a few were able to fall as they finished 1-for-9 from three-point range. Because of this, they started to get more aggressive and drive into the lane, which worked as forwards like Chris McCullough and Malachi Richardson were able to score on mismatches and get to the line. But, at the line, no one was able to score and they finished 3-for-10 at the line at the end of the opening half.
Boeheim’s Army improved from deep by opening Rice up for shots at the beginning of the second half. On BA’s second possession of the period, Rice drove to the left wing before passing to D.J. Kennedy in the post.
Kennedy faked going in the post and quickly passed back out to Rice who drained the three. On the next possession, BA ran the same play from the opposite side, and Rice delivered the same result to bring Boeheim’s Army within two points.
BA also improved their ability to get offensive rebounds and second-chance points. In the first half, Boeheim’s Army had 12 offensive rebounds compared to the Golden Eagles’ three.
Still, BA struggled from the free-throw line, shooting 6-for-16 at the start of Elam Ending. But Rice was able to improve on that percentage with two makes to give the team a two-point lead, on which they wouldn’t falter for the rest of the game.
After Boeheim’s Army’s 2-3 zone was neutralized by the opposition, BA stopped using the approach completely. This was mainly because BA’s new additions, neither of whom are SU alumni, were not as familiar with the zone.
The team switched into a man-to-man look for the rest of the tournament, which dominated as BA had the best defense in the tournament thus far. But their previous defensive prowess wasn’t apparent early against the Golden Eagles.
In the first quarter, the Eagles were able to create open looks on the majority of their possessions. They opened the game shooting 4-for-4 from the field, using pick-and-rolls to get mismatches and easy layups against BA’s bigs.
The Golden Eagles’ early lead from layups decreased once Boeheim’s Army was able to stop the Golden Eagles from scoring in the paint. But throughout the second half, the Golden Eagles found other ways to score, specifically from three-point range led by Travis Diener. The 39-year-old who starred for Marquette alongside Dwyane Wade hit two threes in the third quarter, all within one minute.
Throughout the fourth quarter, Boeheim’s Army started to play even more aggressively on defense, as they had four team fouls to give before the Golden Eagles would enter the bonus. BA even returned to the zone on some possessions, forcing the Eagles to take three-pointers which they were unable to hit.
During the Elam Ending, the Golden Eagles needed one more three to end the game. Boeheim’s Army gave them the chance to shoot from deep, but BA secured the victory before the Eagles could cap off their defense.
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