CLOSING THE GATE: Syracuse press sparks crucial 15-0 first-half run as Orange beats Colgate

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ The momentum-shifting basket seemed inevitable, yet for most of the first half Syracuse couldn’t find it.Each time the 25,519 that packed into the Carrier Dome held its collective breath in celebratory preparation, the Orange disappointed.A Jerami Grant thunderous block turned into a missed transition 3-pointer. A Grant steal turned into a Tyler Ennis travel. Syracuse missed two of its first seven free throws as Colgate led 18-15 more than 10 minutes into regulation.Then the Orange extended its press. Four straight turnovers, and five total in a 1:29 span. The fourth, a Michael Gbinije steal, turned into a transition 3-pointer for C.J. Fair.The shot pushed SU’s lead to 27-18 with 6:47 to play and keyed a decisive 15-0 run.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We just really used our length and our speed to jump passes, try to pressure them, use our big bodies to kind of shield their vision so they couldn’t see the passing lanes,” Gbinije said.“And it worked.”Syracuse (3-0) staved off a pesky Colgate (0-2) squad 69-50 on Saturday. The Raiders hung around with the Orange until the midway point of the second half, but a pressure-filled 3:23 run in the opening stanza was the difference. Fair finished with 20 points and seven rebounds while Ennis added 12 points and Trevor Cooney 10, including five during the stretch.“We didn’t really get going like we wanted to,” Fair said. “We made strides, but the strides were just good enough to keep good distance. We didn’t really break out like we should have.”Initially, Syracuse did appear to be on its way to an easy victory. Two open Fair jumpers resulted in five points as the Raiders struggled to defend. But a 9-0 run capped by Murphy Burnatowski’s baseline jumper gave Colgate a four-point edge 5:18 into regulation.The Raiders big men succeeded in getting behind SU’s 2-3 zone, stretching the Orange wings and working the ball for open shots.“They really almost didn’t try to shoot inside,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said with a chuckle. “Their whole offense was to go in and not shoot inside, and throw it out.”Pat Moore’s 3-pointer pushed Colgate’s lead to 12-7 with 13:37 left in the first half before 6-foot-11 center Ethan Jacobs and Damon Sherman-Newsome drained 3s to make it 18-15 4:14 later.But after Grant made two free throws to give SU a 19-18 lead with 7:54 to play, he bolted toward the end line and took his place at the top of SU’s 1-3-1 full-court press — face to face with Moore who was inbounding the ball.First, Grant took the ball from guard Chad Johnson one second into Colgate’s possession. Next, Cooney stripped Johnson and earned two free throws.Then, with nowhere to pass, Moore chucked a one-handed pass downcourt that safety Baye Moussa Keita picked off. Five seconds later, Cooney buried a wing 3.“I don’t know if many presses have a guy like Jerami at the top, but that makes it so much easier,” Cooney said. “He’s so long and athletic, and his length really bothers people when he gets up in them and makes it difficult.”Coming out of a Colgate timeout, Gbinije swiped a Sherman-Newsome pass and Fair drained his 3 at the other end.Three Gbinije free throws finished the Orange run.“Once we sped them up, I think that’s when we got a little momentum,” Fair said.Burnatowski made another 3 to pull the Raiders within 30-23, but two Ennis 3-pointers helped the Orange to a 36-26 halftime lead.Two Fair jumpers to open the second half pushed Syracuse’s lead to 40-26 and the Raiders would get no closer than 11 from there.It was far from a pretty performance for Syracuse. One that Ennis said “shows us that we’re not at that level yet.”But the Grant-led backcourt harassment — if only for that short period of time — won the game for SU.“We were able to speed them up a little bit and make them make tougher plays,” Cooney said. “We were able to get tips and get steals and get out in transition. That really helps us and helps a run.” Comments Published on November 16, 2013 at 6:32 pm Contact Stephen: sebail01@syr.edu | @Stephen_Bailey1last_img read more