Syracuse basketball’s tourney hopes dim with loss to NC State

Jim Boeheim
Syracuse Orange head coach Jim Boeheim looks on from the sidelines. Mandatory Credit: Kicia Sears, The Juice Online.

With leading scorer Elijah Hughes leaving the game due to injury with just 2:33 elapsed, a shorthanded Syracuse team put up a valiant fight, but gave up a late run and lost to North Carolina State at home Tuesday night, 79-74. The Wolfpack (16-8, 7-6 ACC) trailed by a half dozen with just over six minutes remaining, but ran off nine straight points to trigger a 15-2 run to pull out a road win.

The Orange (14-10, 7-6 ACC) got big games from freshmen Joe Girard III and Quincy Guerrier, but their combined 46 points was not enough to overcome the fact that they were the only two SU players to make more than 40 percent of their field goal attempts. Overall, Syracuse shot just over 39 percent in the game and made a meager 3-of-18 three-pointers.

N.C. State had no such problems, torching the Orange by shooting over 52 percent from the field and 42 percent from long range in each half. The ‘Pack made 11 triples in the game, helping to offset their 19 turnovers and -5 rebounding differential, including giving up 14 offensive rebounds to SU.

Shortly after Hughes went to the bench with what was called a muscle strain in his upper left leg during the television broadcast, North Carolina State rolled off a 10-1 run to take a 12-7 lead six-and-a-half minutes into the game. The Wolfpack pushed their lead to nine just three minutes later with an 8-2 run.

The Syracuse offense woke up, ripping off a 15-3 run. Marek Dolezaj and Quincy Guerrier each scored inside to start the run, then Joe Girard III added a three-point-play for seven straight Orange points.

The ‘Pack connected on a three, but that was just a speed bump. SU rolled off eight more points, started by Girard pulling up for three and adding a runner to tie the score. Dolezaj lobbed for a Bourama Sidibe lay-up, then Guerrier added a foul shot for a 26-23 Syracuse lead with 5:27 left in the first half.

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The Orange would own a four-point edge with just over three minutes before the break, but the guests closed the half with a 10-2 run for a 39-35 lead. N.C. State would add the first score of the second half to go up by six, but SU whittled away at the lead, knotting the game before four minutes were off the clock.

The Wolfpack took a narrow lead again, but Syracuse got seven straight points to start an 11-3 run. Boeheim hit a right wing three to tie the game, then Guerrier set up Jesse Edwards inside with a bounce pass and Dolezaj banked in a shot from close range. N.C. State drained a three, but Girard made two free throws and Dolezaj was fouled flipping in a short shot. The forward missed from the line, but the Orange still held a 64-59 lead.

SU nudged the lead out to a half dozen with a little over six minutes left, but the offense went ice cold, netting just one basket over the next four minutes. North Carolina State suffered no such problems, scoring on six consecutive possessions to tally 15 points and grab a 77-70 lead.

The Orange got sets of foul shots from Dolezaj and Girard around one ‘Pack free throw to climb back within four with 1:37 left, but they turned the ball over on their next two possessions. N.C. State added on another free throw to make it 79-74 with 36.7 seconds to go and Syracuse could get nothing after that.

Joe Girard III had a career high of 30 points, hitting 11-of-12 from the foul line. Quincy Guerrier recorded his second double-double, tallying 16 points and ten rebounds off the bench. Marek Dolezaj chipped in with 13 points and, despite shooting just 4-of-15 from the field, Buddy Boeheim had ten points and four steals.

Devon Daniels topped North Carolina State with a season-high 23 points. C.J. Bryce had four three-pointers as he piled up 19 points. Jericole Hellems had ten points while D.J. Funderburk added nine and Markell Johnson chipped in with eight points and eight assists.

Syracuse will close their schedule with five of seven games on the road, starting in Tallahassee on Saturday afternoon when they take on #8 Florida State. The Seminoles (20-4, 10-3) had won 13 of their last 14 games prior to suffering a 70-56 loss at #7 Duke Monday night.

Guards Devin Vassell and Trent Forrest lead the ‘Noles. Vassell tops the squad with averages of 13.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, as well as 37 three-pointers on 42.0 percent shooting from deep. Forrest is second in scoring for FSU, averaging 11.6 points per outing with team-leading averages of 4.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game.

Saturday’s matinee is set for a 12:00pm Eastern tip-off with ESPN2 televising the game.

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Jim Stechschulte
About Jim Stechschulte 638 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.