Syracuse subdues Boston College to climb back above .500 in ACC

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Feb 13, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange guard Joseph Girard III (11) shoots the ball between Boston College Eagles guard Makai Ashton-Langford (4) and guard Rich Kelly (22) during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

While it looked destined to be a repeat of the blowout in their first matchup after eight-and-a-half minutes, Syracuse never pulled away Saturday afternoon, but kept Boston College around before holding on for a 75-67 home win. The Orange (12-6, 6-5 ACC) used a 21-7 run in the early minutes to secure a 25-13 lead, but a dozen points was the most distance they could put between themselves and the Eagles (3-12, 1-8).

SU would also take a 12-point lead thrice in the second half, but neither put away the guests away nor allowed them to get within a single possession. They did, however, post a couple long stretches of solid defense, including holding BC, who was without second-leading scorer Wynston Tabbs, to just two free throws in the final four minutes of the opening half and nearly two-and-a-half minutes after the break.

That defensive effort helped out significantly, as holding the Eagles to just 36.5 percent shooting overall helped offset 17 Syracuse turnovers. Two areas the Orange found success on offense were in the paint and at the free throw line. On a day with their fewest three-point attempts of the season (11), they held a 38-20 advantage in points in the paint and also went 16-of-19 at the foul line in the second half.

Boston College made a pair of early threes to take what would be their lone lead of the game. SU responded with ten straight points to start a 21-7 run. Buddy Boeheim and Joe Girard III each made a trey to start things off, then the former threw a nice lead pass to the latter for a fast break lay-up. Quincy Guerrier then found Boeheim in transition for a lay-up to make it ten straight points for a 14-6 Syracuse lead and force an Eagle time out.

The Orange eventually closed the streak with a 9-2 burst. Alan Griffin had seven points in the span, hitting a straightaway three to start it and a pair of lay-ups to close it. The latter basket gave SU a 25-13 lead less than nine minutes into the contest.

While things appeared to be headed to a repeat of their first matchup, a 101-63 rout at BC, the guests had other plans. Boston College answered with nine straight points as the foundation of a 13-2 run, drawing within 27-26 with just over eight minutes left in the first half.

The teams alternated a pair of baskets before Girard ran off seven straight points. Marek Dolezaj made a pretty touch pass to set up a three from the right wing by the sophomore guard. Girard took a steal the distance for a lay-up, then drove the right side of the floor a minute later for another basket. The burst gave the Orange a 38-30 lead with less than five minutes until halftime and they eventually took a 41-35 lead into the break.

SU struck quickly coming out of their locker room, scoring on their first three possessions. Dolezaj took advantage of a mismatch for an easy two inside, Boeheim drained two foul shots, and Guerrier slipped free of the defense for a wide-open dunk to make it a 47-35 game.

The Eagles stayed at arm’s length for several minutes, eventually scoring six straight points to halve the lead at 53-47. Syracuse allowed them no closer for seven minutes, but BC drew within five points with 5:36 to play.

The Orange responded by missing a foul shot, then making 13 straight from there until the final horn. Guerrier made 3-of-4 over two trips, then Dolezaj added a pair to build a 67-57 lead with just over four minutes to go.

An Eagle lay-up cut the margin to eight, but Boston College’s C.J. Felder committed his fourth foul, then was slapped with a technical foul for comments made to the officials after the whistle. The technical foul sent him to the bench and Griffin to the line, where he made both technical free throws. Dolezaj followed for the bonus opportunity and connected on both ends, nudging the SU lead to 71-59 with 2:22 to play.

The Eagles did not go quietly, chipping away with six points to get within a half dozen once more. Looking to halve the lead, BC’s Rich Kelly put up a three, but Griffin got a piece of the ball and Dolezaj secured the rebound and was fouled. The senior forward made two more at the stripe to extend the margin to 73-65 and Syracuse coasted home over the final 41 seconds.

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Joe Girard III led the Orange with 16 points, all in the first half, making 7-of-9 shots in that time. Alan Griffin scored ten of his 14 points in the first half. Marek Dolezaj scored ten of his 13 in the second half and Buddy Boeheim matched his total. Quincy Guerrier had a busy day, finishing with 12 points (ten after halftime), nine rebounds, four blocks and three steals.

Rich Kelly led Boston College with 14 points, making four triples in the game. Stefon Micthell has a 12-point, ten-rebound double-double while Jay Heath had a dozen points. C.J. Felder just missed a double-double of his own, tallying nine points and snaring a dozen boards.

The Orange is scheduled to return to the road on Wednesday when they face Louisville. The Cardinals (11-4, 6-3) have had their last three games postponed due to positive COVID tests, contact tracing, and quarantining. The first of those games was a scheduled trip to Syracuse on Wednesday, February 3. The Cards last played two days prior to that, a 74-58 win over Georgia Tech in a game postponed from earlier in the season.

Carlik Jones tops Louisville in scoring and assists, with 17.4 points and 4.9 helpers a game. David Johnson is second on the team, averaging 13.1 points per game, and tops on the squad with 29 three-pointers made at a 42.6 percent clip. Jae’Lyn Withers and Samuell Williamson combine to average just under 20 points and just over 15 rebounds per contest.

Tip-off is set for 6:30pm Eastern on Wednesday from Louisville with the ACC Network handling television duties.

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About Jim Stechschulte 687 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.