Published on July 27, 2019 at 1:52 pm Contact Andrew: [email protected] | @CraneAndrew Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Eric Devendorf lunged toward Steven Burtt and extended his arm. Positioned in front of the Gael Nation bench late in the third quarter, Devendorf’s fingertips deflected Burtt’s release and sent the ball in the air. For a minute, it appeared that Devendorf had again anchored a Boeheim’s Army defensive stop.But then the guard dropped to his knees. He rolled over, motionless. Devendorf slowly dragged his legs toward his chest. SRC Arena went silent. Hakim Warrick, standing at the other end of the court, turned and stared. So did Arinze Onauku. Burtt’s finger had poked Devendorf’s right eye, causing it to bleed.For much of the first half, Devendorf, the clear-cut leader of the Boeheim’s Army roster, kept his teammates in the game — 3-pointers and floaters gave the offense life along with his constant movement. They needed one more push from him to ensure a victory. By the end of the third, Devendorf jumped in front of head coach Ryan Blackwell and helped coach, motioning the defense closer together. In the fourth, he tacked on four more points, including the game-winner. Behind a stronger shooting percentage and a two-defense arsenal, Boeheim’s Army knocked off Gael Nation, 84-74, at Onondaga Community College’s SRC Arena. At the forefront was Devendorf, who led the team with 20 points. BA, now one win closer to the nationals in Chicago, plays tomorrow in the regional final against No. 3 seed Brotherly Love.“(Devendorf’s) the lifeline of our team,” Andrew White, who scored 14 points, said. “He gets older each year, but that energy never goes away.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEric Devendorf did a little bit of everything on Saturday, recording 20 points in the win. Courtesy of Raycom SportsLast night, it took a Jordan Crawford free throw to clinch the first-round win over We Are D3, a roster containing just one player — Georgio Milligan — with more than one TBT appearance. Until Crawford and Devendorf heated up in the third quarter, BA struggled to control the pace and lacked consistent looks from the field. D3 cutters criss-crossed through the 2-3 zone and shooters took advantage of the open space behind the 3-point line. A switch to man-to-man defense sparked the turnaround.“D3, they wouldn’t go away,” Blackwell said on Friday night. “They made shot after shot, play after play and they played really hard, especially defensively.”Early on, it looked like Gael Nation was heading down the same path. In its first round win over Team Fancy, the Iona-alumni team constantly pushed the pace — five players scored double digits and two topped 20.After Gael Nation built a quick lead, Devendorf began to will BA back into the game. A floater in the middle fell. A foul-line jump shot dropped in. A jump-ball tie-up on defense stopped the opposition from scoring. Every time Gael Nation seemed poised to build a similar lead to yesterday, Devendorf — the only BA player on the roster who did not play professional ball last season — found a way to convert.“Be aggressive, get to the rim,” Devendorf said on what he put an emphasis on Saturday. “And then we did a great job of exploiting their zone.”Sometimes, it was a pass to an open Onuaku for a dunk. Other times, it was setting up an offensive possession that ended with a John Gillon or White 3-pointer. As the clock neared halftime, BA jumped back into the 2-3 zone and opened up a four-point lead. Boeheim’s Army used both the zone and man-to-man defenses to stifle Gael Nation penetrators like its last game. On one possession, Devendorf knocked the ball off Burtt and out of bounds. He grunted, pumping his arms across his chest.“We get going when he gets going,” Blackwell said of Devendorf. “He’s always been the heart, the engine of this team.”Eight-straight points by White to start the second half quickly added to the lead. But then Devendorf went to block Burtt’s shot and went down. Shooters needed to step up, White said, because Gael Nation was playing well. But with Devendorf down, BA needed typical role players, such as BJ Johnson and Darryl Watkins (who had 13 and 12 points, respectively), to produce.“You have to be versatile, especially in this tournament, just because you never know what that game will call for,” White said. Boeheim’s Army is one win away from making the eight-team final in Chicago. Courtesy of Raycom SportsWith the Elam Ending target score set at 83 and Boeheim’s Army needing one final point to clinch, Warrick took an entry pass and backed his defender toward the block. Devendorf loitered on the far wing with a kick-out option if it broke down. Warrick saw the secondary option and the pair locked eyes. Devendorf shook him off, waving his hand. The initial gameplan was to attack Gael Nation’s lack of size and depth. So Warrick drove, but was fouled. On the ensuing out-of-bounds set, a Warrick pick allowed Devendorf to receive a pass in front of the Boeheim’s Army bench. The guard jumped slightly, released and traced its path. An “easy shot,” Devendorf said after.The fans inside SRC Arena rose to their feet as the ball sunk in, but this time there was no Devendorf fist pump. There was no bicep clenching, no finger pointing, just simple high-fives among teammates. That shot, that set, was Devendorf’s responsibility to make. And it won the game.