The Basketball Tournament

No. 3 seed Boeheim’s Army survives late scare to edge No. 11 seed GaelNation in double OT, 106-100, to advance to Super 16

Matthew Gutierrez | Asst. Sports Editor

Boeheim's Army once led by 22 points before GaelNation made a second-half run to force double overtime. But GaelNation failed to pull off the upset.

PHILADELPHIA — Donte Greene waved both hands in the air. He pounded his feet and let out a roar. His and-one in double overtime finally provided a group of Syracuse fans reason to let out a collective sigh of relief, then rise to their feet in unison to celebrate a 106-100 double-overtime victory on Sunday afternoon.

A few minutes earlier, when GaelNation’s D’Angelo Harrison tied the score with a long 3, capping off a 20-point second-half comeback, he waved to the very same section of orange. From around midcourt, Harrison, a two-time First Team All-Big East selection at St. John’s, stared at the contingent of fans he had just stunned. They sat, clad in orange, and hushed.

This time, with Boeheim’s Army again leading after Green’s and-one, the fans could rejoice. The Syracuse Alumni, up by 15 at the break and 20 early in the second half, let GaelNation, a group of Iona alumni, erupt for a furious second-half comeback to pull within one. Then Steven Burtt scored a transition layup to give GaelNation its largest lead of the game, three, with two minutes to play.

“We got a little stagnant offensively,” head coach and former SU big man Ryan Blackwell said. “We were a little bit tired. We weren’t communicating when they made a run. But we kept our composure and executed … we made individual plays.”

With each basket, the celebration grew fiercer, the towel waves stronger and the jolt off of the GaelNation bench a little bit more passionate. Fans in maroon banged their feet to the bleachers as GaelNation inched closer to an upset over a team with significant Final Four experience on the floor.

No. 3 seed Boeheim’s Army staved off a 20-point comeback from No. 11 seed GaelNation in double overtime on Sunday at the campus of Philadelphia University. Greene finished with a team-high 28 points in his first game this year and, for the third consecutive year, Boeheim’s Army will advance to the Super 16 of The Basketball Tournament, a 64-team, single-elimination tournament that awards a $2 million grand prize. (In November, the Orange hosts Iona for the first time since 2010.)

The Syracuse alumni, now boasting a 7-2 record over three summers in the tournament, will play July 20 in Brooklyn. Should No. 2 seed Supernova move on in its matchup later on Sunday, Boeheim’s Army will face former members of the Villanova Wildcats.

Both Blackwell and Cooney pointed to the difference a few days may make. Last year, only four players practiced for a couple of days in Syracuse. This year, all eight players played pickup ball in the Carmelo K. Anthony Basketball Center the week leading up to this weekend’s tournament. Both said that the extra repetitions proved critical in edging out the victory Sunday, and that they will dictate how far Boeheim’s Army can go this summer.

Saturday night on the same floor in Philadelphia, Boeheim’s Army scored 14 points before the No. 14 seed DuBois Dream made a basket, in a 99-66 victory in the opening round of the tournament. Brandon Triche tallied a triple-double (11 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists) and John Gillon scored a game-high 26 points, hitting four 3-pointers and handing out five assists.

img_0243
Matthew Gutierrez | Asst. Sports Editor

In round two, Greene kicked off the scoring brigade with a baseline jumper. Forty-nine first-half points followed, including a handful of Greene 3-pointers, a two-handed jam by 7-footer DaShonte Riley and a nifty drive by Eric Devendorf, who scored 23. The 2009 Syracuse graduate, who ranks 14th on the program’s all-time scoring list, was trapped in the corner with nowhere to run. He nearly lost the handle, then hesitated, spun baseline and pounded two dribbles before laying in a basket.

What followed in the second half hardly mirrored that of the night prior, when Syracuse trounced a team without a single former Division I player. C.J. Fair, a former First Team All-ACC selection and forward on Syracuse’s 2013 Final Four team, grooved his way to a transition dunk to create a 20-point advantage. Trevor Cooney, who two years ago started at guard on Syracuse’s Final Four team, drilled a pair of 3s.

“Our zone bothered them a bit” Cooney said. “And we found a rhythm.”

But then GaelNation found its stride, using its length inside to gain loose rebounds and hitting several 3-pointers against Boeheim’s Army’s 2-3 zone. Burtt, a left-handed guard, used a mix of elusiveness, craftiness and shooting prowess to score a game-high 34 points and lead the charge. Missed box outs, sometimes sloppy defense and more than 13 offensive rebounds let GaelNation sneak back in.

That is until Greene allowed Boeheim’s Army to regain its footing in double overtime.

“We want the $2 million,” Greene said.

Comments

Top Stories