Three weeks ago, Syracuse faced a stretch of five winnable games that could go a long way toward resuscitating their NCAA Tournament hopes. With a 75-61 victory at Boston College, the Orange have placed all those “winnable” games into the win column. As a result, SU now stands at 18-8 overall and 8-5 in ACC play, as well as in most prognosticators’ NCAA Tournament fields with a month left before the music for the Big Dance starts.
The Syracuse offense was too much for the Eagles (7-18, 0-12), as four different players reached double figures and the team shot over 46 percent from the floor, including just under 48 percent from three-point range. The Orange also held a modest +6 rebounding advantage and forced 13 BC turnovers on the day.
Boston College held the early advantage, but Syracuse struck back for their first lead at 8-6 after Michael Gbinije dropped in a lay-up and Tyler Lydon hit a turnaround in the lane. The Eagles responded with five points to take back the lead.
The Orange needed just over three minutes to hang 13 straight points on the scoreboard and grab control of the game. Gbinije opened the run with a long three-pointer from the right wing, they Lydon added a jump hook from the right baseline. Malachi Richardson stole an entry pass and pushed the ball, eventually setting up Frank Howard for a lay-in.
Tyler Roberson added two shots from the line, then deftly set up Lydon for a reverse lay-up. Howard then set up Roberson on the doorstep to boost SU to a 21-11 lead just after the midpoint of the opening half.
Syracuse held the Eagles at bay for a couple minutes, but then the offense went into the cooler, allowing Boston College to get back into the game. While the Orange went nearly eight minutes with only one field goal, BC chipped away at the lead, using a 13-5 run to pull within a single point.
Trevor Cooney gave SU a positive right before half, though. He grabbed a loose ball offensive rebound and converted a lay-up a half-second before the buzzer to give Syracuse a 35-32 lead at halftime.
The Eagles played well out of the break, eventually posting six consecutive points to retake the lead at 41-39. The Orange, however, dominated the next six minutes with a 21-4 burst that not only boosted them back on top, but also effectively ended the game.
Gbinije started things off with a three from the top of the key to put SU back in front. Cooney then added a pair of free throws. Following a BC basket, Richardson hit a three-pointer, then zipped a no-look pass to Lydon for a lay-up and a 49-43 lead.
The Eagles scored once more, but Syracuse responded with 11 straight points to deliver the knockout punch. Richardson opened the streak with a three-pointer from the left side, then Lydon went to work. The freshman started his personal run with a pair of foul shots, then added a pair of threes, the latter trailing in transition, to give the Orange a 60-45 lead just after the halfway point of the closing half.
Boston College could only draw within nine points twice over the rest of the game.
Tyler Lydon paced the SU offense with 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. Michael Gbinije supported him with 17 points, including hitting four three-pointers, and grabbed three steals. Malachi Richardson stuck three triples en route to 15 points while Trevor Cooney added a dozen and Tyler Roberson chipped in with nine.
Boston College’s Matt Milon led all players with 25 points, hitting 5-of-7 treys for most of his damage. Dennis Clifford had 16 points and Sammy Barnes-Thompkins added 11 to the BC cause.
Wednesday night, SU will take on Louisville on the road. The Cardinals (19-6, 8-4), who announced a self-imposed postseason ban nine days ago, have dropped their last two games, both road contests, but return home, where they have only lost once on the season.
Damion Lee leads the Cards by scoring 16.5 points per game, while Trey Lewis backs him by averaging 12.2 points an outing. The two have combined for 92 three-pointers on the season. Chinanu Onuaku, the younger brother of former Syracuse player Arinze Onuaku, leads Louisville with 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game.
The contest, which will start at 7:00pm Eastern, will be televised by ESPN. The telecast will also be available online at espn3.com and through the ESPN app.
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