PHILADELPHIA — It took a while, but Boeheim’s Army eventually got rolling Saturday night and overwhelmed their first round opponent, Basketball City NYC, 87-59. Seven different players cracked double figures for the Army, who rolled up a 50-27 advantage after the break, highlighted by a 20-3 run a few minutes into the second half that blew the game open.
The second seed in the northeast regional of The Basketball Tournament, the Syracuse alumni group shot 48.5 percent in the game, including hitting 57.1 percent of their shots in the second half. They also owned the glass, enjoying a 50-32 rebounding advantage in the game.
Boeheim’s Army made it look like the game would only be in doubt for a couple minutes as they opened the game with a 10-2 run. The opening flurry was capped by a vintage Hakim Warrick one-handed slam over a defender coming down the right side in transition. A couple minutes later, Warrick stuck a pick-and-pop jumper from the right elbow for a 14-4 lead, forcing a time out from Basketball City.
After the Army nudged the lead out to 11 points, Basketball City crept back into the game, using a pair of triples for the bulk of a 7-0 run that pulled them within 17-13.
Former SU classmates C.J. Fair and Baye Moussa Keita then gave the Army some breathing room. Fair drained a corner three to stop the bleeding, then Keita scored on a putback to stretch the lead back to nine. After Keita got a helpful bounce when he flipped in a short shot, Fair added a follow-up score off his own miss and a pair from the line for a 28-18 lead.
Basketball City would claw their way back, eventually whittling the Boeheim’s Army lead to 37-32 at the break.
The two teams played evenly for the first few minutes of the second session, but the Army went on the attack with 14 consecutive points. Darryl Watkins posted up and reversed the ball in to open the burst. Eric Devendorf gathered a tap out and took off for two, then finished a drive with a fake and lay-in to make it 51-40.
Terrence Roberts canned a left wing three, then Willie Deane drained a three of his own for a 17-point lead. Roberts then snapped up a loose ball and led Deane for a lay-up and a 59-40 lead.
NYC got a trio at the line to stop the streak, but Boeheim’s Army retaliated with six more points. Brandon Triche dropped in a floater, then Fair added a reverse lay-up on the break and a pair from the line to cap the 20-3 burst and grab a 65-43 lead.
Again, the two teams played evenly for a stretch, but the Army all but finished the game with a 9-0 run. Keita started things with a putback three-point-play, then Watkins canned a mid-range jumper from the left baseline. Roberts got a fast break dunk and Warrick capped the streak with a pair at the line for an 83-55 lead.
Eric Devendorf paced the squad with 14 points, including 11 after halftime. C.J. Fair and Brandon Triche each had 13, the former with nine to top all players in the first half and the latter with ten in the second session. Hakim Warrick and Baye Moussa Keita each added 11 points, the former falling one board shy of a double-double, and Willie Deane and Darryl Watkins both chipped in with ten points.
Boeheim’s Army returns to action on Sunday when they will face the seventh-seeded North Broad Street Bullies, a team comprised of Temple basketball alumni, in the second round at approximately 4:15pm.