The Basketball Tournament heated up in Atlanta as tensions flared in a 73-69 win for Boeheim’s Army over Armored Athlete. The scuffles weren’t quite as hot as Eric Devendorf’s jumper — the force that carried them to their most comfortable second half edge of the tournament so far. They would stave off a string of four straight threes by the Victor Oladipo-backed team that returned the game into a shadow of doubt.
Dominique Sutton and Devendorf began the first half piled on the floor and both sat sidelined when the final heave before halftime flew up. Sutton had been ejected with his second technical foul moments before, and Devendorf racked up three personal fouls. Sutton would later watch from afar when Devendorf moved the BA sticker forward in the bracket.
Devendorf rested then knowing his inspired performance following his scrum in the opening minutes propelled Boeheim’s Army to a 38-37 halftime lead. He poured in a pair of shots dribbling around 15 feet, up-faked his way to an open three and hit another on the wing. Altogether he hit five of his first seven shots after Sutton fell on top of him and he shoved him off.
“Go to your bench buddy,” could be heard from the referee Clarence Armstrong through the hot mic. Sutton picked up another tech late in the second quarter and got yanked from the game. Tensions rose several times throughout the game and it played into Boeheim’s Army’s favor.
Devendorf failed to extend their lead beyond the single possessions they’ve played within through the entirety of TBT so far, fouling three of the allowed six times through midway in the second. Stefan Moody led a three-point based attack for Armored Athlete, hitting three of the team’s six into the third quarter.
That’s when Devendorf picked up his work and broke open the first double-digit lead for Boeheim’s Army. He pressed into his defender and faded away deep on the left baseline, nailing and talking trash all the way back in transition. Then he backed it up with a deep bomb at the top of the arc to extend a 47-37 lead. Arinze Onuaku assisted with his rumbling roll to the rim where he floated the ball up and into the rim as he bumped into a defender and toppled behind the basket.
The 2-3 zone chipped in to knock AA off the line in the third with a Onuaku-led triple team in the corner forcing a turnover. Devendorf knocked the ball away from David Dudzinsky a few possessions later and tossed the ball over Moody’s head ahead of Brandon Triche into an open layup.
BA carried their 10-point lead into the fourth with Hakeem Warrick maintaining his dribble penetration. He grabbed a pair of free throws before the buzzer cutting on the baseline. Earlier he continued his run of vicious flushes tearing by Murphy Holloway.
The Elam Ending arrived at 66-54 and head coach Adam Ross announced that Armored Athlete would target Onuaku, a career 39 percent free throw shooter for the Syracuse Orange. After two immediate fouls he buried two straight at the line to get within five points of the 73 needed to win.
Armstrong’s continued jokes and tight whistle broke up the monotony of the strategy.
AA instead turned to Moody blocking Devendorf inside and transitioning the ball on the break to Marcus Thornton for an open three to draw within 68-60 with the clock shut off. Holmes nailed another a few steps behind the line after Warrick’s dunk rattled off the back of the rim.
Thornton and Moody kept raining down on the zone outside with consecutive threes, while Syracuse’s group grinded away in the paint. John Gillon drove and landed a floater. Warrick cleared the interior to finish a layup after a pair of missed outside looks landed in his hands.
Once 13 points away from 73, Armored Athlete pulled within 72-69 but that one point room for error would not stand. Warrick charged into the paint and only needed one free throw to finish another win for Boeheim’s Army.
They now move on to play the Golden Eagles for a trip to the semifinals on Sunday. Tomorrow’s game will air on ESPN, scheduled for a 1 pm tip.