Monday night, they tried as hard as they could to give away a game, but #4 Syracuse failed to do so, holding on for a 57-55 victory at Maryland, snapping their two game slide. The Orange (26-2, 13-2 ACC) held three different 12-point leads in the second half, the last with under eight minutes to play, but gave it all away save for one point before escaping. The Terrapins (15-13, 7-8) made a lot of hay late in the game at the free throw line, but it was not enough, as they could not quite get over the hump.
SU played a strong defensive game, holding Maryland to 35 percent shooting in the game, as well as collecting 18 turnovers, many coming more from Terrapin miscues than anything the Orange did. Syracuse needed all the defense they could muster, as they backed up a 50 percent shooting performance in the first half by making a grand total of three shots after the under-eight media time out in the second session.
In fact, SU even gave a little extra defensive effort than needed, sending the Terps to the line for 27 free throws, including 14 in the final 6:13. Maryland made a dozen of those late foul shots, but it was not enough.
While they did pull out the victory, the Orange ended the game shorthanded once again. Jerami Grant, who fought through back issues against Duke on Saturday, sat out the second half.
Trevor Cooney wrote his name in the scorebook first, bouncing in a triple, but Maryland quickly grabbed a 5-3 lead. SU scored the game’s next eight points, highlighted by Jerami Grant making a spinning drive and getting an easy two-handed stuff on consecutive trips down the floor.
Maryland hit a three to stop the Orange run, but Cooney made one of his own off a hand-off from Tyler Ennis to match. Ennis then picked off a Terrapin pass and went coast-to-coast for a lay-in. C.J. Fair buried a long jumper shortly after to make it a 15-3 Syracuse run that put the guests out front, 18-8, just over eight minutes into the action.
That bucket would be the last Orange tally for three minutes, while the Terps struck back with six straight points. Fair hit another long two to stop the bleeding, but a second Maryland three-ball in as many possessions cut the Syracuse lead to 20-17 with eight minutes left in the half.
Fair hit a mid-range jump shot off a curl to put the Orange up five, then Baye Moussa Keita tapped in a miss for a 24-17 SU lead that forced a Maryland time out. Fair then tacked on a short jumper to make it a nine-point lead.
Maryland struck back with a jump shot in the middle of two quick Fair fouls, giving him three for the half. The senior forward went to the Syracuse bench with 4:55 on the clock and the Terrapins made two at the line to get within 26-21.
The Orange outscored Maryland over the rest of the half, 6-5, mostly due to the efforts of Ennis, who hit a baseline floater, then a three-point-shot from NBA range just before the halftime buzzer. The latter gave SU a 32-24 halftime lead.
With Grant on the bench with a back injury to start the second half, Michael Gbinije took over his spot and made an instant impact, deflecting a Maryland pass that led to a 4-on-1 fast break that netted Fair an easy dunk. After a pair of Terrapin baskets, Gbinije made a free throw, then assisted on an Ennis three from the top of the key for a 38-28 Syracuse lead.
The next possession resulted in a Maryland bucket, but that was their last field goal for over five minutes. The Orange gradually stretched their lead to a dozen on a lay-up after the under-12 media time out. After a pair of Terrapin free throws, Fair drilled a matching jumper.
When Maryland ended their drought with a trey, Gbinije rattled one home from the corner, then Ennis capped a drive with a short jumper that again had SU in front by a dozen, this time at 49-37 with under eight minutes on the clock.
The Orange offense went into the cooler, as they made only one shot in the next 4:45. The Terps used the opportunity to cut into the lead, knocking down seven shots from the stripe and a triple to close the gap to 51-47.
The SU offense, which could not buy a shot, suddenly raised their level of difficulty and got results. First, Fair rose to the occasion by making a stepback three-point shot from just north of the left corner. After the hosts got a three to narrow the margin back to four points, Cooney hit a turnaround fadeaway from 17 feet to put Syracuse in front, 56-50, with just under two minutes left.
Maryland retaliated through aggression, driving to the basket again and again. While their shots from the field never got home, five of their six foul shots did. The final one made it a 56-55 game with 48 seconds left.
The Orange ran a play to get Fair a shot, but his long jumper missed and the Terps came down with the ball. Maryland raced up the court and Nick Faust went up with a drive, but Keita turned it aside. Fair secured the rebound for SU and the hosts had to foul.
In fact, Maryland had to foul twice before the Orange went to the line. It was Cooney who drew the trip to the stripe with four seconds left and he took his team-best 88 percent success rate with him.
Cooney’s first shot swished cleanly, but the second twirled off the iron, allowing Maryland to rebound and call time with 3.6 seconds to go.
The Terps inbounded to Seth Allen, who raced upcourt. Allen could only get off a contested three-pointer that hit off the glass, then the side of the rim, granting the Orange a happy trip home.
Tyler Ennis bounced back from a poor shooting night at Duke by hitting 9-of-18 shots in the game en route to 20 points. C. J. Fair was the only other Syracuse player to crack double digits, connecting for 17 points while snagging nine rebounds. Trevor Cooney chipped in with nine.
Seth Allen topped all scorers with 22 points, doing most of his damage from deep as he splashed home six three-pointers for Maryland. Dez Wells was the only other Terp to log double digits in points, finishing with 15.
The Orange will wrap up their three-game road odyssey on Saturday when they pay a visit to #12 Virginia with the top spot in the conference in the balance. The Cavaliers (23-5, 14-1) have ripped off 11 straight wins, all in ACC play, and host Miami before SU comes to town.
Virginia, who is yet another ACC team that prefers a slowdown game, has only two players averaging double figures in scoring. Malcolm Brogdon, who averages 12.3 points per game, leads the way, while Joe Harris, who posts 11.5 points per outing after averaging over 16 points per game last season as an All-ACC First Team performer, backs him up.
The game is set for a 4:00pm Eastern tip. Once again, ESPN will televise the game, which will also be available online at ESPN3.com or through the WatchESPN app.