Levi Stockard, VCU stifle Syracuse in second half

Virginia Commonwealth used 15 points from Levi Stockard and suffocating pressure defense to run past Syracuse in the second half of a 67-55 victory in the quarterfinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis Wednesday night in Paradise Island, Bahamas.

VCU (3-2) also got 12 points from Marcus Tsohonis and 11 from KeShawn Curry. The Rams rattled Syracuse with their depth and aggression, forcing 16 turnovers and limiting the Orange to 29 percent shooting from the floor.

After an ugly first half when the Rams committed 10 turnovers and shot 26% from the floor, they had just four miscues and shot 57% in the second half. VCU outscored Syracuse 44-28 in the second half.

Syracuse (2-2) was paced by Buddy Boeheim, who collected 20 points and six rebounds, while brother Jimmy Boeheim contributed 17 points and 12 boards.

Syracuse led by as many as six points late in the first half, but VCU grabbed the lead early in the second half and held it the rest of the way. Tsohonis hit two 3-pointers to help VCU gain the lead for good, then Jayden Nunn drained a pair midway through the session to keep the Rams in charge.

In addition to scoring 11 of his 15 points after intermission, Stockard displayed slick interior passing as well, as he fed Hason Ward for a pair of uplifting slam-dunks in the second half.

VCU struggled at the start, failing to score from the floor in the first 4:54. But Curry, who broke the ice with a 3-point play, later tallied half of the points in a 10-0 run as the Rams assumed a 17-12 lead.

But Syracuse answered immediately as Buddy Boeheim hit consecutive 3-pointers to give the Orange the advantage. During an 8-0 run late in the half, Joe Girard, the nation’s leader in 3-point accuracy entering the game at 81%, rattled in a 3 as the Orange stretched their lead to 27-21.