Orange topple Oakland at Carrier Dome

Orange topple Oakland at Carrier Dome

Elijah Hughes and Joe Girard III help boost Syracuse above the Golden Grizzlies in front of an announced home crowd of 16,394.
Published: December 19, 2019
Syracuse Basketball vs. Oakland -Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim throws his arms up in the air to try to get the thinning Carrier Dome crowd to cheer on his team in the last minutes of Syracuse 74-62 win over Oakland.

Syracuse stumbles, Elijah elevates

The Orange got off to a slow start again with only one point in three minutes of play. It wasn’t until Joe Girard sank his first three of the evening that they took a lead they would maintain for the remainder of the game. However, the lethargic atmosphere was evidently palpable, with Coach Jim Boeheim citing crowd noise (or lack thereof) as a major contributing factor in their success.

“It’s sad, it’s sickening really, to see that we can’t get some help here,” he said. “We desperately need it and it picked up our defense just enough.”

He clarified Thursday afternoon via Twitter that his comments weren’t disparaging towards the fans, but strictly the atmosphere in the arena. Whether the crowd helped, hindered or otherwise, it was Hughes who led the charge with support from Buddy Boeheim and Girard.


Syracuse Basketball vs. Oakland - Oakland's Brad Brechting gets his arm wrapped up in Syracuse's Joe Girard III's

Oakland's Brad Brechting gets wrapped up in Syracuse's Joe Girard's dribbling.

Syracuse Basketball vs. Oakland - Marek Dolezaj

Syracuse's Marek Dolezaj goes up for a shot.

With 10:51 left in the first half, the Orange led by only a point at 12-11. That’s when Buddy Boeheim ignited a solo tear for eleven points. The double-digits came on a pair of threes, a trio of free throws, and a field goal. The effort made the score 23-17 with eight and a half minutes before intermission.

The Orange followed this with points from Girard, Edwards, and Hughes. It was the latter who squared things away with a stunning one-handed dunk and back-to-back threes to secure a 43-35 lead at halftime. He ended the half with 15 points, while Boeheim and Girard each had 11.

Syracuse Basketball vs. Oakland - oe Girard III dives for the ball
Syracuse's Joe Girard III dives for the ball that Oakland's CJ Gettelfinger ultimately scoops up.

Grizzlies grind, Girard drives

Girard knocked down some free throws early on, but Hughes and Boeheim rocketed out of the gate with a pair of threes to give the Orange their largest lead of the night, 51-39. However, Oakland didn’t come to Syracuse to get rolled over.

The Golden Grizzlies went on a five-point run that went unanswered before Marek Dolezaj slammed one despite Oakland’s success down low all night. In the contest, Syracuse had only 20 points in the paint versus the Grizzlies’ 30. Moreover, the Orange continued to struggle with rebounds 29 to Oakland’s 34.

Their superior play inside the arc allowed Oakland to initiate a seven-point run with 11:19 left in regulation. That streak lowered the ‘Cuse’s lead to only four points at 55-51.


Syracuse Basketball - Syracuse's Joe Girard III screams
Syracuse's Joe Girard III screams after serving up an assist Wednesday night.

Joe Girard picked up the slack late in the half, finally maxing out with 20 points. The game marks his second time with 20 points this season, and without that scoring, the Orange would have surely lost. He also sank all seven of his free throws. He entered the game with the third-best free throw percentage in the nation and looks to maintain that or improve pending a few more games this week.

Ultimately, the Orange emerged victorious. Hughes finished the night with 23 points with Girard close behind at 20. Sidibe made his presence felt with 13 rebounds and seven steals. If his defense continues, and Girard can continue to put up points while distributing well (he had a game-high seven assists), the team may be able to improve and grow in time for their conference matchups in the new year.


Syracuse Basketball vs. Oakland - Elijah Hughes dunk
Syracuse's Elijah Hughes dunks the ball in Wednesday's match-up against Oakland.

Moving forward

The Orange finished 74-62 in a game many expected them to handily win. It’s a trend they’ll want to continue to build on a 6-5 record after Wednesday night. With only a couple more non-conference matchups this month, they are aiming to gain some momentum for the ACC half of the season. Syracuse suits up for the solstice on Saturday against the North Florida Ospreys at the Carrier Dome.