With a new starting lineup, Syracuse basketball surges past Seattle

Syracuse forward Elijah Hughes
Syracuse forward Elijah Hughes looks to score. Mandatory Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

Syracuse needed less than five minutes to effectively end Saturday night’s game with Seattle. After giving up the opening basket, the Orange (2-1) went on a 17-2 run to grab a 13-point lead less than five minutes into the game. SU withstood some hot shooting in the early minutes of the second half, defeating the Redhawks (2-3) in the opening game of the NIT Season Tip-Off at the Carrier Dome, 89-67.

Syracuse led by as many as 23 points in the opening half, stifling the visitors with their 2-3 defense. The Redhawks made only 9-of-33 (27.3 percent) field goal attempts in the opening half, including just 1-of-12 from beyond the arc.

Seattle heated up after halftime, making 7-of-8 threes out of the break and getting within seven points at the under-12 media timeout of the second half. The Orange responded with the next seven points over the following three minutes to regain control.

The Redhawks got a lay-up to open the scoring, but SU responded with the next seven points to take a lead they would not relinquish. Bourama Sidibe and Joe Girard III each scored to put the hosts in front, then Buddy Boeheim added a triple to the Syracuse side of the ledger.

Seattle notched another lay-in, but the Orange rang up ten straight points. Marek Dolezaj hit a jumper and Elijah Hughes drained a three to get every SU starter in the scorebook. Girard added a three of his own and Hughes a lay-up to make it 17-4 less than four minutes into the game.

The Redhawks stayed within shouting distance until the midpoint of the half, but the Syracuse defense rose up, holding them without a field goal for an eight-minute span. The Orange were not as proficient on offense during that time, but stitched together eight straight points to push their advantage out to 36-17.

» Related: Boeheim announces that Girard will start against Seattle

Three Seattle foul shots got them back into the ledger, but SU ran off the next seven points to make it a 15-3 run and take their biggest lead of the night. Hughes and Girard each buried a three and Quincy Guerrier dropped in a free throw to make it 43-20 with under three minutes left in the opening half. The guests scored six of the final seven points before the break to pull within 44-26.

The distance between the two teams stayed in the teens until about one-third of the way through the second half, when Seattle got within a dozen points on their fifth straight made three. The Redhawks would continue to bury treys, their sixth coming 30 seconds later to pull within 59-48 and their seventh at the under-12 media timeout to clip the Syracuse lead to 61-53. The latter included a foul and the free throw after the pause in the action made it a seven-point game.

The Orange responded by doubling their lead. Girard hit a jumper to restore order, followed by both a lay-up and a jump shot from Dolezaj. Dolezaj added a free throw 30 seconds later to boost the SU lead to 68-54 with under nine minutes to play.

Seattle would not make another three-pointer, but stayed within arm’s reach until their offense when completely dry for three-and-a-half minutes. Meanwhile, Syracuse scored ten straight points, the first half dozen from the charity stripe. Boeheim and Dolezaj each added a lay-up, the second finishing the streak with the Orange on top, 83-61, with just over four minutes on the clock.

Joe Girard III marked his promotion to the Orange starting lineup by coming one missed triple from a perfect shooting night. The freshman guard did not miss a shot until there were a little over nine minutes to play, finishing with 24 points on 7-of-8 shooting from the floor, including 5-of-6 on threes, and making all five free throws.

Girard was not the only SU shooter lighting it up, as Marek Dolezaj also went 7-of-8 from the field, adding 19 points and grabbing three steals. Elijah Hughes posted 15 points while Quincy Guerrier came off the bench to contribute 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Buddy Boeheim was the fifth Syracuse player to reach double figures with ten points.

Terrell Brown paced Seattle with 23 points. Delante Jones had a dozen points while Myles Carter posted a double-double of ten points and ten rebounds.

The Orange return to action on Wednesday when Cornell visits the Dome. The Big Red (1-3) have dropped their last three contests, including a 75-54 loss at DePaul on Saturday. Jimmy Boeheim leads Cornell in scoring at 15.3 points per game with Terrance McBride right behind at 14.5 points per outing on just under 63 percent shooting from the floor.

Tip-off is set for 7:00pm Eastern and the contest will be televised by the ACC Network.

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Jim Stechschulte
About Jim Stechschulte 637 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.