Old Dominion rallies to overcome a big lead by Syracuse

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Tyus Battle dribbles up the court in the first half. Mandatory Photo Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome, #25 Syracuse gave away a double-digit lead in just over 15 minutes to drop a 68-62 game to Old Dominion. The Orange (7-3) took a 39-28 lead just over four minutes into the second half, but immediately gave up a 13-2 run to erase that lead, then were outscored in the final four minutes, 17-9.

After trailing by 13 points before their final possession of the opening half, the Monarchs (8-3) simply owned the second half. ODU shot 55.6 percent from the field after halftime and limited SU to 25 percent from the field at the same time. Old Dominion also forced nine Syracuse turnovers after only getting four in the first half and held a slight edge in rebounding.

The Orange jumped out to an early lead via the long ball. Oshae Brissett swished a three from the right wing on the game’s opening possession and, a couple minutes later, Frank Howard canned his own trey late in the shot clock while being fouled. Howard’s free throw gave SU a 7-1 lead before the game was three minutes old.

Old Dominion replied with a pair of triples to tie the game and eventually took a 12-11 lead with another shot from behind the arc just after the seven-minute mark.

Later in the half, Syracuse would string together five straight points to break a tie, but the Monarchs responded with a couple inside baskets to get back within 21-20 with just over four minutes until halftime.

Following the under-four media time out, the Orange ran off a dozen straight points with Tyus Battle doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Howard started the run with one foul shot, then Battle made two pairs from the line.

Elijah Hughes made a steal and set up Battle for a transition lay-up, then Battle swished a straightaway stepback from 18 feet. Howard then dropped a pass to Hughes at the top of the key for a three-pointer and a 33-20 SU lead with under a minute to go in the half. ODU got a three to get within ten points at the break.

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Old Dominion chipped the gap down to six points in the opening minutes of the second half, but Hughes scored in transition, then connected from long range to boost the Syracuse lead to 39-28 with just over four minutes off the clock.

ODU ran off six straight points to get right back into the game. Marek Dolezaj hit a baseline jumper to get the Orange back in the scorebook, but the Monarchs added seven more points to knot the score at 41 a side just before the midpoint of the half.

SU would go right back in front and take a four-point lead twice, but Old Dominion got a jumper and a triple on consecutive possessions to take a 51-50 edge with just over five-and-a-half minutes to play. Three foul shots pushed Syracuse back in front, but ODU scored eight of the game’s next nine points to take control.

Paschal Chukwu fouled a three-point shooter, which turned into three made free throws and a Monarch lead. ODU added a trey for a four-point lead, but a Battle foul shot cut the margin to three. Chukwu then committed a goaltend by putting his hand up through the rim trying to defend a shot. The two points gave Old Dominion a 59-54 lead with under three minutes left.

Brissett connected on a three to bring the Orange within a deuce, but two successful trips gave the guests a 63-57 advantage with under 90 seconds to play.

Battle made a three to halve the margin on the next possession, then matched an ODU jumper with a pair of free throws, but the Monarchs hit three-of-four free throws in the final 30 seconds while SU could not hit a series of desperation threes over their last two possessions.

Tyus Battle struggled in the second half, making just 1-of-7 shots, but still led all scorers with 23 points. Elijah Hughes also reached double figures for the Orange, finishing with 15 points, while Oshae Brissett and Frank Howard each chipped in with nine points.

B.J. Stith posted his second straight double-double, leading Old Dominion with 18 points, all in the second half, and ten rebounds. Xavier Green hit three triples en route to a second-high 15 points while Marquis Godwin also connected from deep three times as he reached 11 points. Ahmad Caver added nine points for the Monarchs.

SU faces another stiff contest when #14 Buffalo visits the Carrier Dome on Tuesday night. The Bulls (10-0) kept their season mark perfect on Saturday with a 73-65 home win over Southern Illinois.

Buffalo has a very balanced offense, as four different players average double digits in scoring and three others average at least 6.9 points per game. C.J. Massinburg, who erupted for nine threes and 43 points in a win over West Virginia, paces the Bulls with 17.1 points per game while Nick Perkins posts 13.8 points and 8.2 rebounds a contest. Perkins led all players with a 20-point, 11-rebound effort in Buffalo’s win on Saturday.

The in-state rivals will tip off at 8:00pm Eastern on Tuesday. ESPN2 will televise the game, which will also be available online at ESPN3.com and through the ESPN app.

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Jim Stechschulte
About Jim Stechschulte 531 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.