Syracuse closes the Maui Invitational with win

Syracuse closes the Maui Invitational with win

A 105-56 rout of hosts Chaminade gave Syracuse a record of 1-2 in the tournament.

Syracuse's Chris Bell (left) leaps to keeps the ball in play before passing it off as Virginia Tech's Darius Maddox (13) watches during an ACC basketball game Wednesday at JMA Wireless Dome.
Chris Bell, seen here in Syracuse’s game against Virginia Tech, was crucial to the Orange’s win against hosts Chaminade in the the Maui Invitational.

Somebody had to finish last, just not Syracuse.

Syracuse men’s basketball finished the Maui Invitational with a 105-56 rout of hosts Chaminade, ending the tournament with a record of 1-2. Competitive throughout the tourney, the Orange were unable to put the pieces together until faced with a Division II opponent.

Here are takeaways from SU’s win.


Tennessee, Gonzaga, and… Chaminade? It’s no wonder Syracuse was able to win its final game by nearly 50 points.

The Maui-based Division II school has never been shy of competing with the premiere college basketball programs during its run as host, and, more often than not, has met the same unfortunate fate each time.

Syracuse took the lead just 15 seconds into the contest with a hook shot from junior center Naheem McLeod and never looked back. A little under 10 minutes into the game, the Orange had already racked up a 20 point lead.

The Silverswords looked inferior – through no fault of their own – and Syracuse dealt with them in the manner any talented program should have.

Syracuse capitalized on turnovers, scoring 27 points off Chaminade errors. It was clear Syracuse players were enjoying themselves; sophomore guard Judah Mintz danced across the court just before the second half started with the Orange already up 52-18.

With a Power Five opponent up next, the Orange should enjoy their dancing while they can.

Benny and the Nets

Junior forward Benny Williams once again returned to the team after not playing against Gonzaga. The forward finished with six points and two rebounds.

Williams was effective in his 13 minutes of play as he still looks to regain his starting role.

Just past the 12-minute mark, Williams had a volleyball spike-esque block, only to have a technical foul called on him for taunting after the emphatic rejection. For Williams, this season has been a series of one-step-forward-two-steps-back moments.

The Orange need Williams to find his focus as there’s no denying his talent.

It is still unclear as to why Williams did not play against Gonzaga. Head coach Adrian Autry declined to elaborate on his lack of minutes after the game.

For whom the Bell tolls

It was a much needed 18 point performance for sophomore forward Chris Bell, who struggled against Gonzaga. Just over 24 hours after a 2-18 shooting performance, the junior found his shooting form.

The six-foot-seven forward – and Syracuse as a team – found success rebounding the ball. Gonzaga out-rebounded Syracuses 48-28, as the Zags picked up seven more offensive rebounds. Against the Silverswords, Syracuse grabbed 55 boards to Chaminade’s 30.

Bell has the talent to be as efficient as he was against Chaminade every night, but finding consistency will be key for the Orange sharpshooter moving forward. Some nights, shots simply don’t fall, but for Bell, the good nights need to outnumber the bad for Syracuse to compete in March.

Positive experience

It was a dominant win from the Orange in nearly every aspect Wednesday night.

SU finished with 54 points in the paint, narrowly scoring less in the region than Chaminade’s 56 total points. This was a much needed thrashing for Syracuse after two losses that could have easily been victories. Syracuse will return from the Maui Invitational for the first time as non-champions, but it could have easily gone a different direction.

The team showed its youth – in good ways and bad – against two of the best programs in college basketball. In Autry’s first season, two close battles against ranked teams are signs of better days ahead for the Orange faithful.

The Orange will next face LSU on Tuesday in the JMA Wireless Dome. Tipoff is set for 7 pm.