SU Wins; Hosts Notre Dame On Saturday
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Redshirt junior Elijah Hughes scored a game-high 19 points to lead the Syracuse men's basketball team (8-5) to a 71-57 victory against Niagara (2-9) in its non-conference finale on Saturday, Dec. 28 at the Carrier Dome. The win was Syracuse's third straight and raised the Orange's record to 7-2 at home this season. Hughes hit six of his 11 attempts from the floor and was 6-for-7 from the foul line to lead four Orange players in double figures. He added nine rebounds and tied his career high with nine assists to narrowly miss becoming the first Syracuse player since current assistant coach Allen Griffin in 2001 to record a triple-double. Sophomore Buddy Boeheim chipped in 15 points, while junior Bourama Sidibe and freshman Joseph Girard III each had 10 points to round out Syracuse's double-figure scorers. Sidibe contributed a game-best 13 rebounds to log his second double-double of the season. The 6-foot-10 center also stuffed the stat sheet with three steals and a career-high five blocked shots in 32 minutes. Nick MacDonald paced Niagara with 11 points. Syracuse plays the fourth of five consecutive home games on Saturday, Jan. 4 when it resumes ACC play against Notre Dame. Tipoff is set for 4 p.m. on ESPN2. Tickets to watch the Orange and Irish in person are available online (Cuse.com/tickets), by phone (888-DOME-TIX) and at the Dome Box Office located in the Ensley Athletic Center.
ORANGE BLITZ Syracuse started the game by making four of its first six shots and led 10-0 before a field goal by Nicholas Kratholm at the 15:34 mark of the first half ended the Niagara drought. The Orange countered Kratholm's bucket with consecutive baskets by Hughes, including his only 3-pointer of the night, and a layup by Sidibe, to extend the lead to 17-2 less than six minutes into the contest. The Syracuse advantage swelled to as many as 16 (26-10) in the first half before Niagara steadied the ship. The Purple Eagles scored six straight points to whittle the margin to 26-16 at the under-8 media timeout. The Orange led 41-28 at the break. SECOND HALF SAME AS THE FIRST After jumping on the Purple Eagles in the game's opening minutes, Syracuse continued to have its way with the visitors in the second half. Boeheim drained two triples to open the frame, igniting a 10-4 scoring spurt that resulted in a 51-32 advantage with 16:02 to play. The Orange eventually pulled ahead by 20 (55-35) on a pair of Brycen Goodine free throws at the 12:35 mark. During the last 12 minutes, the Orange never the let Niagara cut the deficit to single digits. The Purple Eagles closed the gap to 11 on a 3-pointer by Justin Roberts with just under five minutes to go. However, that was as close as they got. Girard III answered Roberts' trey with two straight jumpers, including his only 3-pointer, to make the score 66-50 with 3:59 remaining and the Orange cruised to the buzzer. OF NOTE: Saturday's game marked the return to the Dome for Niagara head coach and Syracuse native Greg Paulus. Paulus, who prepped at Christian Brothers Academy and played basketball collegiately at Duke, was the starting quarterback and captain for the Syracuse football team as a graduate student in 2009.
He still holds the Orange single-season record for completion percentage (.677, 193-285).The Orange are now 54-28 against the Purple Eagles and have won nine straight in the series dating back to a 77-68 triumph in the championship game of the Upstate Region in the 1976 ECAC Tournament.Sophomore Robert Braswell hit two 3-pointers off the bench in the first half to tie his personal best with six points.Sidibe had a productive first half, scoring eight points on 4-for-4 shooting and pulling down eight rebounds to go with four blocks.Seven of Hughes nine assists came in the opening half.Hughes has now scored double-digit points in every game this season.
The Purple Eagles made 40.6 percent of their field goals in the first half, but shot just 25 percent in the second half. The Orange limited Niagara to a 9-for-36 showing from the field after halftime.Girard III, who entered the game third nationally in free-throw percentage, missed from the foul line for just the second time this year. He was 1-of-2 from the charity stripe Saturday and is now 35-for-37 (.946) for the season.Dolezaj's 12 rebounds and four blocks were both career highs.Syracuse pulled down a season-best 46 rebounds and finished the game with a +13 margin on the glass (46-33).Every game for the Orange this season has been decided by at least 10 points.