The adrenaline of opening night showed for both Syracuse and Cornell at the Carrier Dome on Friday night. The Big Red harnessed theirs early while the Orange seemed to have a little too much, leading to the underdog visitors leading by as many as 14 points in the first half. SU, however, eventually reined in their emotions while Cornell lost their mojo, leading to the Orange storming back for an 82-60 victory.
The second half statistics told the story of the comeback, as Syracuse shot 63 percent from the field compared to Cornell’s 36 percent mark. The Orange also owned the backboards in the session, outrebounding the visitors by a 22-7 margin.
Trevor Cooney seemed to replace all questions about his game by setting future expectations impossibly high. The redshirt sophomore blistered the Carrier Dome nets, burying 7-of-8 three-pointers en route to a career-high 27 points. Cooney’s hot shooting went a long way toward offsetting the Big Red’s hot start, as the guests knocked down seven first half triples in taking their healthy lead.
C.J. Fair opened up the game with a quick bucket for SU, but the Orange offense went into the cooler right after, enabling Cornell to take a 7-2 lead with less than three-and-a-half minutes off the clock. Fair continued to be the primary scorer early for Syracuse, netting a couple more baskets to help narrow the margin to 12-11. The Orange shortly after took the lead back at 16-15, but Cornell’s Nolan Cressler grabbed command of the game.
Cressler rang up 20 points in the first half, including 15 in just over a five-minutes to power a 21-7 Big Red run. The burst put Cornell out in front, 36-22, with just over four minutes left in the opening half. Trevor Cooney hit back-to-back threes to cap a stretch of eight straight SU points, getting the Carrier Dome crowd back into the game. After a pair of Big Red free throws slowed the SU momentum, Fair brought the crowd right back into it with a strong drive and dunk. Freshman Tyler Roberson brought an even louder roar from the crowd when he blocked a Cornell dunk attempt just before the half, keeping the score 38-32 in favor of the Big Red at the break.
Just over three minutes into the second half, Cooney buried another trey to cap a 10-2 Syracuse run, give the Orange a 42-40 lead, and force a Cornell timeout. The visitors got a three to regain the lead, then swapped buckets with SU before the Orange took off on another run. Syracuse hung eight straight points on the scoreboard, capped by a thunderous putback dunk by Baye Moussa Keita that forced another Big Red timeout. Shortly after play resumed, Cooney splashed his seventh three of the game to extend the run to 11 consecutive points and the Orange lead to 55-45. A three-pointer stopped the stretch, but SU simply started another one, scoring nine straight points for a 64-48 lead just past the midpoint of the second half.
Cornell seemed to flatline and Syracuse took advantage. A Big Red jumper stopped the landslide, but only momentarily, as the Orange scored the next seven points to make it a 71-50 game with just over six minutes left. At that point, SU had scored 49 of the game’s last 63 points. Syracuse cruised home from there as Jim Boeheim emptied his bench with just over a minute to go.
Trevor Cooney added four steals to his game-high 27-point outburst. C.J. Fair scored 11 of his 19 points in the first half, but committed seven turnovers in the game, including a pair on charging fouls. Rakeem Christmas was the third SU player in double figure scoring, tallying a dozen points. While he had a rough night shooting in his debut for the Orange, Tyler Ennis recorded game highs of eight rebounds and seven assists.
Nolan Cressler paced Cornell with 23 points. Robert Hatter and Dominick Scelfo each added nine for the Big Red. The three combined to make nine threes in the game.
Noticeably absent for Syracuse was Jerami Grant, who was suspended for the game due to violating NCAA rules regarding summer league play.
The Orange return to action on Tuesday when they welcome Fordham to the Dome. The Rams (1-0) waltzed out to a 20-point halftime lead as they blew out future SU opponent St. Francis (NY) on Friday night, 87-67. Fordham had four players reach double figures in scoring, paced by Jon Severe’s 28-point effort and Bryan Smith’s 18 points. The two combined for 11 three-pointers in the game, led by Severe’s seven long-range shots. The game will get underway at 7:30pm Eastern and can be watched online at ESPN3.com.