Syracuse nearly erases 20-point deficit before rally falters

Dec 20, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange center Jesse Edwards speaks to the media following Syracuse's loss to the Pittsburgh Panthers at the JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Kicia Sears/The Juice Online.

While Syracuse has not seen a whole lot of snow prior to the official start of winter, Pittsburgh buried them in an avalanche of three-pointers that was too much to overcome in an 84-82 loss at the JMA Wireless Dome on Tuesday night. The Panthers (9-4, 2-0) built a 20-point second half lead and the Orange (8-5, 1-1 ACC) fought back to get within one, but could not get over the hump.

Pitt came into the game making 8.8 triples per game and nearly matched that with eight in the opening half as they torched the 2-3 zone of for 13 treys overall. Their late struggles from the field, making just 1-of-10 overall, left the door open for SU, but Judah Mintz’s late jumper was not close and Quadir Copeland could not get his putback try off in time.

Syracuse’s valiant rally was undone in part by seven missed free throws after halftime, including a pair by Maliq Brown, who had a solid effort off the bench otherwise, with a minute to play.

The two teams played it tight until Pittsburgh opened up a 17-10 lead on the strength of ten straight points. Symir Torrence stopped the bleeding with a dunk for the Orange, but the Panthers added their fourth and fifth threes of the opening ten minutes to stretch their lead to 23-12.

Another trey a minute later pushed the margin to a dozen, but a couple minutes later, SU went on an 8-3 run to whittle the Panther advantage down to 34-27. Pittsburgh withstood that effort and held a 41-33 lead at halftime.

Pitt built a 14-point lead off a couple early second half threes, then added seven straight points a couple minutes later to seize a 59-42 stranglehold on the game less than six minutes out of the break. Syracuse got six straight points a little later to pull within a dozen, but the Panthers added two more threes in an eight-point burst to push their lead to 72-52 with 10:45 to play.

That is when the Orange began their furious rally. The defense limited Pittsburgh to two field goals the rest of the way and the offense gradually chipped away at the margin. An 11-3 run brought SU within a dozen, then a later streak of seven straight markers pulled them within 79-72.

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After a pair of Panther free throws, Syracuse made four straight shots, including a pair of Joe Girard III threes, in the final 2:15 to claw within 83-82. Mintz drew a charge to get the Orange the ball back with 17.4 seconds remaining, but he turned the ball over on the ensuing possession and Jesse Edwards fouled to stop the clock. The Panthers got one foul shot to double their lead before Mintz’s final shot missed the mark.

Mintz led SU with 24 points and added five steals. Girard hit three triples after halftime as 13 of his 16 points came in the second half. Copeland had ten points while Edwards added eight points, nine rebounds, and six blocked shots.

Blake Hinson played the leading man role well for the Panthers, posting game highs of 25 points and 13 rebounds. Nelly Cummings tormented the Orange with six triples as he finished with 22 points. Greg Elliott added a dozen points while Jamarius Burton and Jorge Diaz Graham each tacked on nine.

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About Jim Stechschulte 894 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. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by He currently resides in Syracuse.