The Boeheim’s Army bench provided plenty of firepower in the second quarter, ripping off a 17-2 run that gave them enough cushion to defeat Always a Brave in The Basketball Tournament on Wednesday night, 69-54. The burst gave the Army their biggest lead of the night at 34-17 with just under three minutes left in the first half. Always a Brave would only briefly get the margin down to single digits twice over the remainder of the contest.
Chris McCullough was a force for Boeheim’s Army, leading all scorers with 19 points and tying for game-high honors with seven rebounds. Keifer Sykes was his only teammate in double figures, finishing with ten points, but five other members of the Army finished with either six or seven points, providing a balanced attack.
Darrell Brown, Jr. topped Always a Brave with 16 points. Max Bielfeldt and Marcellus Sommerville each chipped in with ten points. Only one other player added more than three points to their attack.
The game was choppy in the early minutes, but the Army strung together eight straight points to take the lead for good. With 3:45 left in the first, McCullough swished a right wing three for a 10-9 lead, then scored on a putback. Sykes added a high-arcing triple to make it a 15-9 advantage for the Army with a little over a minute to play in the first.
Always a Brave pulled within a deuce in the opening minute of the second quarter, but Boeheim’s Army blew the game wide open over a three-and-a-half minute span with the decisive 17-2 burst. Four different players scored for the Army, led by Andrew White III, who connected on a pair of threes around the lone Brave basket in the span. C.J. Fair and Tyler Lydon each had four points in the run and Eric Devendorf had a triple for the balance.
Always a Brave did not go quietly, replying with seven straight points and staying within 38-28 at intermission. They opened the third quarter scoring to pull within eight, but the Army answered with an 11-2 run, this time by the starters, to build a 17-point lead once more. Tyrese Rice hit a pair of threes in the span and D.J. Kennedy’s circus lay-up made it a 49-32 game with just under three minutes left in the third.
The lead shrank to ten after a 7-0 Brave run, but grew back to 15 points at 58-43 when Fair hit a pair of foul shots and Sykes added a three to start the fourth quarter. Once again, Always a Brave drew within ten, this time right before the Elam Ending portion of the game started with the score 61-51 in favor of the Army.
Always a Brave struck first with a basket, but McCullough scored on a beautiful turnaround fadeaway jumper from off the left block, then scooped up a loose ball and went the distance for a lay-up and a 65-53 lead. Kennedy led DeAndre Kane for a lay-up, then McCullough closed the book after a Brave foul shot by sinking a pair of his own.