The Basketball Tournament

No. 3 seed Boeheim’s Army advances to Elite Eight with late run, downs No. 7 seed Team Fancy 65-61

Ally Moreo | Photo Editor

The group of Syracuse alumni kept the game within striking distance before using late run to fend off Team Fancy.

NEW YORK — As Brandon Triche’s corner 3-pointer soared in the air, Trevor Cooney stood up. He clenched a towel as Boeheim’s Army’s chances to take a lead hung in the air. Fans clad in orange and blue stood up from behind him, some cracking smiles, others nervously holding their breaths. The gym, once vibrant, fell into an anxious hush.

Triche drilled the shot, giving the Syracuse alumni a 61-59 lead. And Triche, who landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2012 and led Syracuse to the Elite Eight in 2013, sunk four free throws in the final seconds to seal the game. For No. 3 seed Boeheim’s Army, his 3-point shot punched a ticket to the Elite Eight. A “Let’s go Orange” chant broke up from the Syracuse-dominant stands.

For No. 7 seed Team Fancy, which upset the No. 2 seed in the tournament to earn a date with Boeheim’s Army, Triche’s shot was the dagger in a run that seemed like it would go on when they took a lead in the final minutes.

“I feel like I was due for one,” Triche said.

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Ally Moreo | Photo Editor

Behind Triche’s shot, Boeheim’s Army avenged its Super 16 loss a year ago with a 65-61 victory. For the second time in three years, the Syracuse alumni will play in the Elite Eight of The Basketball Tournament, a 64-team, single-elimination tournament that awards a $2 million grand prize, played at Long Island University-Brooklyn. Boeheim’s Army now boasts an 8-2 record over three summers and will look for win No. 9 Sunday on the same court for a shot at the Final Four.

“We have shooters all over the floor,” Devendorf said. “Pick your poison.”

It was a seesaw game in every sense, in front of an audience that included the CEO of Starbucks and Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones. And, via the ESPN2 national broadcast, likely SU head coach Jim Boeheim.

Each team started slow in the opening minutes that included errant passes, missed layups and stagnant offense. Triche broke away twice but failed to convert at the rim. Eric Devendorf needed only three hard dribbles to make it from 3-point range to underneath the hoop, but he too couldn’t get the bucket to go in off the glass. After John Gillon tossed a cross-court pass into the hands of Team Fancy, head coach Ryan Blackwell rolled his eyes and replaced him with Triche. Gillon finished with zero points in seven minutes.

But deep into the first half, James Southerland came sweeping through the paint. Uncovered, he caught took a pass chest-high in stride and threw the ball down with his right hand. It was met with applause by the several hundred fans donning orange and blue, and the play spurted a 7-3 Boeheim’s Army run.

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Ally Moreo | Photo Editor

A Devendorf drive to the rim stretched the SU lead to five with nine minutes to go. Once again shortly after, he did almost the same, bumping Boeheim’s Army’s lead to seven, its largest of the game. The next time down, he dropped off a pass to CJ Fair for an easy lay-in.

And just when Southerland, fresh off a couple of weeks in the NBA Summer League with the Utah Jazz, looked slightly out of place with an awkward pivot, he dropped in a nifty teardrop to make it a five point game.

“We have to be right there in striking distance at the end of the game,” said Devendorf, who finished with a team-high 19 points.

Boeheim’s Army did that, as now finds itself three victories away from the grand prize.

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