Tuesday night, Syracuse got a career-high 28 points out of Tyus Battle and needed almost every one of them to secure a 71-62 win over Iona at the Carrier Dome. Entering the game with a previous career high of 23, Battle poured in that many points after halftime for the Orange (2-0), who led the final 28 minutes of the game, but rarely had more than a little breathing room, as the Gaels (0-2) only fell behind by double digits briefly on a pair of occasions in the game’s closing minutes.
The SU defense was solid again, holding Iona to only 36.7 percent shooting from the field. The superior height and length of the Syracuse players helped them to a 42-29 rebounding advantage. One concern for the Orange is their 15 turnovers in the game, especially while compiling only a dozen assists.
SU jumped out to an early 7-2 lead as Paschal Chukwu had a pair of dunks around a Tyus Battle three-pointer. That lead would grow to seven points just after the eight minute mark, but Iona responded with seven straight points to knot the game, then added a three after a Marek Dolezaj free throw for their first lead of the game at 15-13 near the midpoint of the opening half.
Following a Gael lay-in that gave the visitors a one-point lead under a minute later, the Syracuse defense put the clamps on, holding Iona without a point over the next four-and-a-half minutes. The Orange offense hung eight points in that span with Frank Howard playing a leading role.
Howard started the stretch with a double-pump lay-in off a loose ball to put SU in front, then buried a long three-point shot from atop the key. Following a Chukwu foul shot, Howard then fed Oshae Brissett at the right elbow for a jump shot and a 24-17 lead with just over five minutes left in the half.
The Gaels used a three-pointer and a three-point play to draw within a single point with just over two minutes on the clock, but the Orange tallied the last three points of the half, including a soft lay-up that Howard banked off the high glass for a 32-28 halftime lead.
Syracuse scored the first two baskets of the second half, but Iona marched back into the game with an 11-4 run that brought them within 40-39 just over five minutes into the second half. Led by Battle, the Orange responded with a 9-2 run to go back up by eight points.
Battle started the span by making the first and last of three foul shots, then flipped in a fast break lay-up. After a Gael basket, Battle fed Dolezaj for another transition score. Howard added the first of two free throws, then Battle buried a pair of his own for a 49-41 lead just shy of the midpoint of the second session.
Iona fought back within three points, but Battle responded by swishing a trey and Howard added in a drive on the right side for a lay-up to rebuild an eight-point lead. The Gaels again whittled down the lead, this time to two points, but SU replied with seven straight points.
Battle knocked down a pair of jump shots to start the run, then Bourama Sidibe added a foul shot. Dolezaj followed his own missed putback to make it a 63-54 game. After an Iona free throw, Battle swished a stepback jumper from inside the top of the key to push the lead to double digits with 2:35 remaining.
The Orange never led by fewer than seven points after that.
Tyus Battle was efficient in his breakout game, hitting 11-of-18 shots from the field en route to his 28 points. Frank Howard also set a career high in scoring, as he added 15 points while playing all 40 minutes in the game. Oshae Brissett chipped in a dozen points while Paschal Chukwu had ten rebounds to go with three blocked shots.
Four Iona players reached double digits in scoring, led by Rickey McGill, who buried five threes for most of his 21 points. Deyshonee Much had 13 points while Zach Lewis and T.K. Edogi had 11 and ten points, respectively.
SU returns to action on Saturday when Texas Southern pays a visit to the Carrier Dome for the opening game of the Hoophall Classic. The Tigers are 0-2 on the young season with a Thursday matchup at Ohio State prior to their trip to Syracuse.
Three different players are averaging at least 15 points per game on the young season for Texas Southern, led by Demontrae Jefferson’s 21 points per game. Donte Clark averages 17.5 points and 11 rebounds a game for the Tigers while Kevin Scott is posting 15 points per outing.
The Syracuse-Texas Southern game tips off at 7:00pm Eastern and can be watched online at ESPN3.com.