The same Syracuse team that had one turnover in the second half and overtime the night before had 11 in the same time span on Tuesday night, giving away their chance at the Empire Classic title in a 76-69 loss to St. John’s. The Orange (3-2) gifted the Red Storm (6-0) the ball four times in the extra session, three of them coming in the final 75 seconds of the game.
That carelessness was just one symptom on a night when the SU offense struggled. St. John’s took Joe Girard III out of the game at the opening tip, as he finished 1-for-10 from the field, missing all four threes he tried. As a team, Syracuse shot 38.8 percent and a meager 3-for-18 from long range to go with all those miscues.
Judah Mintz had 16 points in the first half, as the St. John’s guards could not handle his explosiveness. After that was a different story, as he mustered just four points to finish with 20 and committed five turnovers after halftime.
Jesse Edwards had 18 points and eight rebounds while Chris Bell had 12 points for SU. Benny Williams had an 11-point, ten-rebound double-double and Mounir Hima had seven blocks and eight boards off the bench.
Andre Curbelo led all scorers with 23 poiints for St. John’s. Joel Soriano (19 points, 14 rebounds) and David Jones (18 points, 13 rebounds) each had a double-double for the Red Storm.
Mintz and Benny Williams authored an 13-1 run for the Orange to push them out to a 19-8 lead less than nine minutes into the game. Mintz had eight points in the burst, including a steal and slam to punctuate the run, while Williams hit a jumper from just inside the arc, then added one on the other side of the stripe.
The Red Storm whittled away at the lead for the rest of the half, drawing within three with six seconds remaining, but Mintz leaked out behind them for a long pass that he converted into a three-point-play and a 35-29 halftime lead for SU.
Syracuse kept a modest lead on St. John’s until stitching together an 8-2 run for a 47-37 lead less than four minutes into the second half. The Red Storm erupted for a 16-2 run at that point, grabbing a four-point lead with a little more than eight minutes left in the half.
That margin crept to five points, but the Orange came back, eventually tying the game with 1:38 on the clock. SU had an opportunity to win on the final play of regulation, but a busted play ended with Symir Torrence taking a fadeaway that skipped off the rim, bringing them overtime for the second straight night.
Each team took a couple minutes to score, but after two points went up for each side, St. John’s posted six straight. Syracuse got an Edwards dunk in response, but they gave up a three-pointer that dazed them, leading to two more turnovers and the final horn.