Syracuse beat Pitt in close game

SU holds on to beat Pitt in close game

After dominating much of the first half, the Orange hold on to win their fifth straight game 68-61.
Published: January 25, 2020
SU Mens Basketball vs Pitt
Quincy Guerrier tries to dribble past Pitt's Justin Champagnie during the first half of Saturday's game in the Carrier Dome.

Syracuse was locked in to start the game.

After a minute of play, Marek Dolezaj scored the first points of the afternoon on a jumper, which Boeheim followed by putting up a three in heavy traffic to get the Orange out to an early 5-0 lead, which, with the exception of a brief tie two minutes later, they held for the entirety of the contest.

Following some back and forth, with Syracuse maintaining the lead, Dolezaj, Quincy Guerrier, and Boeheim led their team on a two minute, eight-point run starting halfway through the ninth minute, to go up 20-7.

To add insult to injury, Boeheim carried an eight-point run with two free throws, two field goals, and two three-pointers, which Sidibe capped off with a layup to take a commanding a 30-10 lead.

A joint effort between Au’Diese Toney, Xavier Johnson, and Justin Champagnie led the Panthers on an 11-0 run immediately after the Orange took the lead. With 34 seconds left in the half, Joe Girard III scored his first points of the game in the form of a layup to boost their lead back over ten points. ‘Cuse entered the locker room with a cushy 32-21 lead against the ACC rival, but the Panthers had other plans for the rest of the game.

SU Mens Basketball vs Pitt
The SU student section yells to distract Pitt's Terrell Brown while he attempts a free throw in the first half Saturday.

The second half was defined by fouls with Pittsburgh recording 20 personal fouls and the Orange getting 15 of their own. The near-constant whistling elicited at least five substantial “boo”‘s from the crowd, but it eventually worked in Syracuse’s favor. In particular, Marek Dolezaj went 7-7 from the line, which was vital in keeping his team alive.

For much of the second half, the game was fought under the basket. Pitt would score a few points, and the Orange would respond, but always with less. What started as a decisive victory for Syracuse became an uncomfortably close matchup. The Panthers managed to shave what started as an 11-point lead for the Orange down to only three points with half a minute left.

As is customary, the final two minutes were prolonged, allowing each team to feel the full weight of their actions as the conflict was about to come to a head. The Orange needed their veterans to take charge and win the game.

Hard defense from Dolezaj with 1:12 left wasn’t enough as Syracuse coughed up the ball to let Champagnie bring the game one shot away from a draw. However, Dolezaj managed to make up for it on the inbound pass, launching the ball past half court into the hands of Elijah Hughes, who put the game in a coffin with a resounding dunk to extend it to a five-point lead.

The crowd in the dome was as loud as they’ve been all season when the Orange’s star player cemented their fifth victory in as many games and inched Syracuse closer to a playoff. A pair of free throws closed the game at 67-61, with the Orange emerging triumphant.

Looking ahead

Syracuse will face their next challenge on Tuesday against Clemson in South Carolina.

SU Mens Basketball vs Pitt
Marek Dolezaj looks to the basket as Pitt's Justin Champagnie and Terrell Brown defend Saturday.