Boeheim’s Army trailed for the entire game against the Golden Eagles… until after the Elam Ending portion of the game began. From that point on, the Army outscored the Eagles, 11-5, not only taking the lead but a spot in the semifinals of The Basketball Tournament with a 73-69 win. This matches the deepest run Boeheim’s Army has ever made, as they were bounced in the 2017 semifinals by Overseas Elite.
Tyrese Rice led the way for the Army with 20 points, including eight of their final nine points. Chris McCullough was a beast once more, logging a 14-point, ten-rebound double-double. Malachi Richardson added nine points, eight coming during the fourth-quarter rally, and DeAndre Kane helped out with eight.
Dwight Buycks made 8-of-11 shots, including 4-of-6 from long range, as he led all scorers with 22 points in the game. Elgin Cook was the only other Golden Eagle to reach double figures, finishing with ten. Vander Blue and Travis Diener each added eight points.
Boeheim’s Army fell behind early and six straight points by the Golden Eagles put them in a 15-6 hole shortly before the midpoint of the opening quarter. The Army got back within five and eventually trailed after one, 23-17. The Golden Eagles maintained some breathing room throughout the second session, only allowing Boeheim’s Army briefly within three points before grabbing a 39-32 halftime lead.
After the Army gave up the first basket of the second half, Rice hit three-pointers on consecutive possessions, pulling them within 41-38. A little over three minutes later, McCullough made a strong cut on an inbounds play for a lay-up and pulled Boeheim’s Army within 46-45 with 3:29 left in the third.
The Golden Eagles needed less than two minutes to take their biggest lead of the day, ripping off ten straight points for a 56-45 lead, including two threes from the 39-year-old Diener. The Army got within six, but a pair of foul shots gave the Eagles a 58-50 lead heading to the final quarter.
The Golden Eagles twice extended their lead to ten points in the opening 75 seconds of the fourth quarter, but Boeheim’s Army came to life.
Tyler Lydon started the scoring with an innocuous lay-up after grabbing a loose ball in the paint, then McCullough slashed in from the left baseline to power in a lay-up of his own. Richardson then buried a deep three from the left wing while trailing in transition, then connected on a leaning trey to beat the shot clock after a fake and step-in. His heroics knotted the score at 62 apiece.
The Golden Eagles scored on their next possession and, with the clock under four minutes, called time out to activate the Elam Ending with a 64-62 lead, setting 72 as the winning score. DeAndre Kane drove in for a lay-up to tie the game, then Rice added one of his own to match an Eagle basket.
Rice added two foul shots on the next Army possession, giving them their first lead of the day at 68-66. D.J. Kennedy added a free throw to extend the lead to three, then Rice added another lay-up, bringing Boeheim’s Army within a single point of victory.
Kennedy rebounded a miss on the next Golden Eagles possession, but had the ball stolen. Buycks connected on a three for the Eagles to make it a one-possession game for both sides at 71-69.
Rice responded by using a screen to get Diener matched up on him, then coolly drove the left side of the key and flipped in a short shot to win the game.