It took a while to get going in their home opener, but #8 Syracuse eventually pulled away from Wagner at the Carrier Dome en route to an 88-57 victory. The Orange (2-0) trailed midway through the first half, but cranked things up at that point, outscoring the Seahawks (0-2) by 32 points over the contest’s final 30 minutes.
As expected, SU used their advantages in size and athleticism to suffocate the visitors on defense. Syracuse held Wagner to under 33 percent shooting from the field, including a mere 25 percent in the opening half, collected 14 steals, and also blocked ten shots.
A pair of quick baskets by Rakeem Christmas staked the Orange to an early 5-0 lead and the squad would stretch
their early lead to six points less than five minutes into the action. The Seahawks proved up to the task at that point, scoring eight consecutive points for a 13-11 lead with just over 13 minutes on the clock. Freshman Trevor Cooney used a steal-assist combo and buried a three-pointer to spark the Orange on a 7-0 run when he checked into the game and SU was back up by five.
Wagner retaliated with six straight points of their own for a 19-18 lead at the midpoint of the opening half. Syracuse roared to life at that point, taking off on a 12-2 run for a 30-21 lead just under five minutes before the half. After giving up a basket, the Orange posted the final half dozen points before the horn and took a 36-23 lead into the locker room.
SU used an early run of seven straight points to stretch their lead to 20 at 46-26 less than three minutes into the second session. Wagner whittled three points away, but six straight Syracuse points jumpstarted a 10-2 run to put the hosts on top, 56-31, with just over 12 minutes left.
The Seahawks were able to crawl within 19 over the next three minutes, but the Orange quickly tacked six points on the board to take a 73-48 lead with less than seven minutes to play. Wagner got within 21 points on two occasions, but SU ripped off a 13-0 run to grab an 88-54 stranglehold with under three minutes to play and cruised home from there.
Only three players got into double figures for the Orange, paced by Brandon Triche, who scored 21 points. Baye Moussa Keita and James Southerland each scored 15 points off the bench for SU. Keita scored all of his points in the second half to set a career high in scoring, including making all six of his shots from the floor, while Southerland had a team-high three blocked shots to complement his scoring. Michael Carter-Williams had 11 assists and three steals in the game while Trevor Cooney swiped a half dozen steals.
Syracuse hits the hardwood again on Wednesday when Princeton pays them a visit. The Tigers (1-2) have won their lone road game, but dropped their last two at home, most recently a 58-52 contest against Rutgers on Friday. Tip-off is set for 7 pm and the game will be available on television on SNY.Jim Stechschulte