Boeheim’s Army were marksmen from the charity stripe in their Tuesday afternoon opener at the Basketball Tournament, hitting 28-of-32 from the line as they defeated the Men of Mackey, a team primarily made of Purdue alumni, 76-69. That hot free throw shooting offset the Army’s difficulties from long range, as the team shot just 4-for-21 from three-point range and made just eight field goals outside the paint in the game.
Boeheim’s Army was the first squad to assemble a run in the game, using a 7-1 run in the middle of the first quarter to grab a five-point lead. Donte Greene started the streak with a pair of foul shots to tie the game at ten, then Brandon Triche swished a three from the right corner to give himself seven early points. After a Men of Mackey foul shot, John Gillon got a high-arcing lay-up to drop through for a 15-11 lead.
The Men of Mackey cane right back, getting six straight points late in the period, including a four-point-play, to go up by a bucket, but Eric Devendorf scored on a right baseline drive to knot the score at 19 a side at the end of the first. Devendorf’s basket did more than finish the opening session; it also jumpstarted a 13-2 run for the Army.
Devendorf kept things going with a floater, then later made a steal and finished the ensuing two-on-one fast break with a lay-in. Andrew White III connected on a three from the left break to push the margin to seven, then Devendorf tacked on a pull-up jumper from the left wing to make it eight points in the run and the biggest Boeheim’s Army lead to that point at 30-21.
The Men of Mackey scored seven of the next nine points to close within four, but the Army scored the next half dozen points to regain command. Malachi Richardson made one foul shot, then Greene stepped into a triple to push the lead to eight. Demetris Nichols added a pair from the line to give Boeheim’s Army the first double-digit lead of the contest at 38-28.
The Men of Mackey clipped the margin to seven, but Richardson rattled home a trey from the left corner to send the Army into halftime with a 42-32 lead. Richardson added a jumper just inside the left corner arc to open the second half and push the lead to a dozen, but the Men of Mackey chipped away at the lead with eight straight points.
Devendorf and Richardson kept Boeheim’s Army alive over the back half of the third quarter, scoring the team’s final 12 points of the session. Devendorf was the focal point, scoring three straight field goals as he had eight points in the span.
The Men of Mackey, however, kept grinding away, using a 9-2 run that bridged the end of the third period and start of the fourth, to take a 61-60 lead.
The Army went back to their most reliable form of offense by going to the free throw line. Richardson made his last two shots after being fouled on a three. Greene made two sets from the line and Will Rayman made a pair. Those free throws were all the offense in an 8-2 run by Boeheim’s Army that gave them a 68-63 as the Elam Ending approached.
The Men of Mackey set that ending into effect, getting a three-point play with 3:59 on the clock to make it a 68-66 game. That set the winning score of 76 points with the first team to reach that mark being the winner.
Devendorf struck first getting a scoop in the paint. A long offense rebound came right to White III, who smoothly dropped in a ten-footer from the left side just outside the paint for a 72-66 lead. Richardson added a foul shot, stretching the gap to 73-66.
The Men of Mackey connected on a three, but Greene finished a pick-and-roll with a lay-up to bring the Army within a single point of victory. Triche was fouled on the next possession and drilled the first free throw to end the game, 76-69.
Eric Devendorf topped all scorers with 20 points, making 9-of-14 field goals in the game. Donte Greenefell just shy of a double-double with 16 points and nine rebounds while Malachi Richardson added 15 points, including ten from the charity stripe. Brandon Triche reached double figures on the final free throw, finishing with ten points.
Frank Gaines paced the Men of Mackey’s four double figure scorers with 18 points.
Boeheim’s Army will return to action on Saturday when they will face Sideline Cancer in the quarterfinals of The Basketball Tournament. Sideline Cancer defeated Team Challenge ALS earlier on Tuesday, 76-66. Tip-off is set for 4:00pm Eastern on Saturday and the game will be televised by ESPN.