A quick take on Syracuse’s 55-53 loss against Dayton in the third round of the NCAA Tournament in Buffalo:
WHAT HAPPENED: Tyler Ennis’ potential game winning 3 on SU’s final possession clanked off the side of the rim, and Syracuse was eliminated in the round of 32. It was one of two curious decisions the freshman point guard made in the final 11 seconds of the game. Down 1 with 11 seconds left, Ennis opted for a free throw extended jumper that missed instead of going to his trusted drive, which had allowed Syracuse to eliminate most of a five point deficit with under five minutes to go. Then again, Syracuse wouldn’t have been in the game without Ennis, who scored all 11 of Syracuse’s final points after the Orange had fallen behind 47-42 with 4:41 left.
ANALYSIS: One single stat can sum up Syracuse’s evening. Zero for ten from downtown. The Orange’s late season offensive struggles finally caught up with them, as the bagel from downtown was compounded by 38 percent shooting from the field. Syracuse’s two top guns, CJ Fair, and Ennis were the main culprits, combining for 11 of 35 shooting from the field. While SU had remained competitive by stymieing Dayton for most of the game, the Flyers finally starting hitting downs from beyond the arc in the second half, and finished 7 for 16 from downtown.
HERO: Dyshawn Pierre led Dayton with 14 points, including three free throws in the final minute. Michael Gbinije was the anomaly in an overall poor shooting day for the Orange, as he added 8 points on 4-5 shooting from off the bench.
ZERO: Trevor Cooney is Syracuse’s 3-point specialist, but went 0-4 from distance and was benched for the majority of the second half. Jerami Grant was in foul trouble for most of the evening, and had more fouls (5) than points (4).
WHAT’S NEXT: A long offseason. Syracuse had plenty of promise to start the season at a perfect 25-0, but struggled mightily at the end of the year, losing six of its final nine games. Gone are seniors CJ Fair and Baye Moussa Keita. Now, the issue remains of whether Jerami Grant and Tyler Ennis will return for the 2014-15 season.