A strong second half performance was the key for #18 Syracuse, as they pulled away late for a 71-50 win over Monmouth at the Carrier Dome on Friday night. The Orange (3-0) held an eight-point lead at halftime, but scored the first six points out of the break, then tacked on an 11-2 run to blow the game open before the midpoint of the second half. The Hawks (1-2) were never able to mount a serious comeback after that.
SU played their best defensive half of the young season after the break, permitting the guests to make only 8-of-38 (21.1 percent) from the field, including a meager 1-of-18 from three-point range. In spite of being outscored in the paint by Monmouth, 32-16, the Orange still held their own down low, finishing with a 46-36 rebounding advantage and blocking ten shots in the game.
While they never trailed in the game, Syracuse had difficulty getting space between themselves and Monmouth in the opening half. Andrew White III scored six straight early points for the Orange in under two minutes, and his three-pointer gave SU a four-point lead. Monmouth answered by knotting up the scoreboard by scoring on their next two trips.
Syracuse opened up a lead once more on the strength of a 9-2 run. Taurean Thompson hit a pair of jumpers around a Tyler Lydon basket for the first six points. Following a Hawk score, John Gillon connected from long range to give the Orange a 20-13 lead with 9:26 left in the opening half.
The SU offense went into a drought that lasted nearly four minutes, allowing Monmouth to score the next seven points, erasing the gap between the two squads. White III righted the ship for the hosts by sticking consecutive three-pointers to put them back in front by a half dozen. Syracuse would extend that led to eight on two occasions by halftime, taking a 35-27 lead to the locker room.
The bigs got things going early in the second half for the Orange. Tyler Roberson opened the half with a lay-up, then DaJuan Coleman scored and Lydon added a lay-up to push the lead to 14 points with just over two-and-a-half minutes elapsed.
The Hawks worked the margin down to ten, but SU, led by Frank Howard, responded with an 11-2 run to blow the game open.
First, the sophomore point guard cleaned up a broken play in transition and dropped in a lay-up, then knocked down a three-pointer to give Syracuse a 15-point lead. After a Monmouth score, Howard dropped in a free throw, then Roberson added a pair from the line. Howard then dished to Tyus Battle, who splashed a three to cap the run with the Orange in front, 54-35, with 11 minutes to play.
The Hawks worked their way within 16 points, but SU rang up eight straight points to put the game away. Lydon showed off several facets of his game in the run, first by stealing a pass and delivering a bounce pass to Thompson for a three-point-play. The sophomore then put in a pair of free throws, then dished to Battle for another three and a 65-41 Syracuse lead with 5:31 to play.
Monmouth mustered consecutive scores to get the margin down to 19, but the Orange scored the next six to take their largest lead of the night at 71-46 with just over two minutes to go. The only down note was that, after scoring the final points, Thompson went down with an apparent leg injury and had to be helped to the SU locker room.
For the second straight outing, Andrew White III paced Syracuse with a strong opening half. This time, he rang up all 18 of his points before the break. Taurean Thompson was the only other player to crack double digits, hitting 5-of-6 shots en route to 12 points. Tyus Battle had nine points on a trio of three-pointers, while Frank Howard chipped in with eight. Tyler Lydon blocked four shots on the night.
Syracuse returns to action on Tuesday when South Carolina State visits the Carrier Dome. The Bulldogs fell to 1-2 on the season when they were manhandled by South Carolina on Friday night, 92-50. The action will get underway at 7:00pm Eastern Tuesday night and the game will be available online at ESPN3.com.