Saturday’s game between Syracuse and Saint Bonaventure was over pretty much at the starting tip. The Orange (9-4) hung a 17-2 run at the start of the game and followed that with a 15-3 burst that ended with over four minutes left in the first half, dominating the Bonnies (4-9) in an 81-47 rout at the Carrier Dome.
In many ways, SU finally had a performance that measured up to the squad’s preseason expectations. Syracuse had their way with their overmatched opponent, shooting 58 percent on the day while holding the guests to a mere 35.6 percent proficiency, including a mere 15.8 percent shooting on three-pointers.
The Orange defense also made a sloppy Saint Bonaventure squad look even worse, forcing 25 turnovers in the game, including 17 steals. SU converted those miscues into 32 points.
Tyus Battle had the hot hand early for the Orange, scoring ten of their first 13 points, including the opening basket on a back door cut for a reverse lay-up. Battle then converted a steal into a fast break lay-in and Oshae Brissett rattled home a three-pointer of an offensive rebound to make it 7-0.
After a Saint Bonaventure score, Syracuse piled on ten more points. Battle scored on a pair of foul shots, a Euro-step drive, and an 18-foot pull-up from the right wing. Marek Dolezaj threw a pretty lob to a cutting Elijah Hughes for a lay-in and Frank Howard swished a long jump shot to make it 17-2 with less than six minutes off the clock.
Over the next four minutes, the Bonnies whittled away at the SU lead, clipping it down to 24-15 just before the midpoint of the opening session. The Orange responded with a 15-3 run that blew the game open.
Bourama Sidibe started the run with an up-and-under move in the post for a lay-up, then made one of two foul shots on the next SU possession. Battle matched a pair of Saint Bonaventure free throws, then Hughes swished a three from the left wing to make the lead 15 points once more.
After another Bonnie foul shot, Syracuse posted seven straight points. Dolezaj drained two free throws, then Battle connected on another stepback jumper, this one coming from the right baseline. Battle then added one of two foul shots and Howard dropped in a pair of his own. That set from the stripe made it 39-18 with 4:38 left in the first half.
The two sides played evenly for the rest of the half with the Orange owning a 46-25 halftime lead.
Just over three minutes into the second half, SU strung together a 9-2 run that pushed their lead to 31 points. Howard dropped a pass to Battle in transition for a lay-in, then Brissett made the first of two free throws.
Hughes turned a steal into a slam dunk, then followed a Bonnies lay-up by converting a pretty no-look pass from Howard into a swished triple from the left corner while being fouled. Hughes added the free throw for a 62-31 lead just over five minutes into the second half.
Saint Bonaventure scored eight of the game’s next ten points to get within 25, but the Orange gradually expanded their lead over the remainder of the game, eventually reaching the final margin of 81-47 in the final minute.
Tyus Battle led ten different players in the scoring column for SU with a nearly pristine shooting line. The junior guard made all eight of his field goal attempts and missed just one of his six foul shots for a total of 21 points. Elijah Hughes added 16 points, hitting three triples along the way. Buddy Boeheim added a dozen points off the bench and Marek Dolezaj added nine.
Kyle Lofton and Jalen Poyser were the only Bonnies in double figures. Lofton had 12 points while Poyser added 11.
The Orange return to action next Saturday when they begin ACC play at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish (10-3) have won four straight games and will have a New Year’s Day matinee at #10 Virginia Tech before Syracuse visits the Joyce Center.
Three different players are averaging double figures in scoring for Notre Dame, led by T.J. Gibbs and his 14.2 points per game. Gibbs also averages 2.2 three-pointers per outing. John Mooney averages 12.8 points and a team-leading 9.3 rebounds per game for the Irish.
The Syracuse-ND game will tip off at 12:00pm Eastern and be televised in certain regional markets. The telecast will also be available online at ESPN3.com and through the ESPN app.