Sunday night was Malachi Richardson’s night, even if it didn’t end up being the Orange’s. Despite a strong outing by the freshman, Syracuse’s three-game winning streak came to an end in a 73-65 loss to the Virginia Cavaliers.
Richardson had a solid start in the first half, going 3-for-4 on 3-point attempts. Playing the entire second half, Richardson closed out the game with 11 points on his way to a season-high of 23. He combined with senior guard Michael Gbinije for 11 3-pointers and 47 of SU’s 65 points.
“We just took what they gave us. We were feeling it,” Richardson said to reporters about the duo’s outside shooting after the game. “We were just being aggressive. Everyone was screening. Trevor [Cooney] was doing a good job making [Virginia’s] other defenders help. Guys were open and we were just making shots.”
Starting the second half down 37-29, Richardson did his part to tighten that deficit with another 12 points, including three more from beyond the arc.
Richardson quieted the Virginia crowd with a 3 at the 4:53 mark, narrowing the Cavalier’s advantage to just a four point lead. Backpedaling down the court, Richardson drove his point home by putting his index-finger to his mouth.
He added another crucial 3 with 28 seconds to go, bringing the Orange within one possession of Virginia’s 68-65 lead before SU’s upset bid fell short.
“I thought Mike [Gbinije] got it going in the second half, and then Malachi made that run to get it back,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said in his post-game press conference. “We had a couple opportunities there, but then [Virginia’s Malcolm] Brogdon stepped up, he made two big threes. That really was the difference in the game.”
It was one of the more unique weekends in recent memory, with SU’s game being postponed a day due to Winter Storm Jonas. Instead of flying out Friday night for a Saturday game, the Orange flew out Sunday morning to play the same day.
But Richardson wasn’t ready to blame the team’s shortfall on the schedule change.
“We’re not going to make that an excuse,” Richardson said to reporters. “We had to come in today, we just had to deal with that. We didn’t make enough plays and we didn’t do the little things that normally get us that win.”