Syracuse triumphs over Cornell in hard-fought match

Syracuse triumphs over Cornell in hard-fought match

Three-point shooting and clutch free throws led men’s basketball to a win at home.

Syracuse's J.J. Starling (#2) looks for an open teammate as Cornell's Jake Fiegen (#22) guards during a non-conference game on Tuesday, December 5 at the JMA Wireless Dome.
Kayla Breen
J.J. Starling looks for an open teammate as Cornell’s Jake Fiegen guards him during a non-conference game on Tuesday at the JMA Wireless Dome.

The Syracuse Orange once again asserted their dominance in a tight fought match up at the JMA Wireless Dome. SU men’s basketball secured an 81-70 victory over the Cornell Big Red in an electrifying Upstate showdown.

The first half set the tone for a contest marked by intensity and precision.

Syracuse wasted no time, opening the game with a pair of free throws from junior center Naheem McLeod. The Orange also quickly established their three-point game, with sophomore guard Judah Mintz sinking a flawless shot from beyond the arc to set the tone.

The Big Red, however, showcased their resilience, attempting a staggering 48 three-pointers for the second straight year at the Dome.

“I told the guys ‘Don’t worry. We can be up 13, then we can be down three, and next thing you know we can be back up 10. That’s just the pace that they play at,’” said head coach Adrian Autry.

Despite the Big Red’s effort, they struggled to find the mark, connecting on just 13 attempts, and trailed as Syracuse closed the half with a 34-31 lead.

Mintz, determined to make amends for a lackluster performance against Virginia, ignited the Orange offense. By the time the first media timeout rolled around at 14:49, Mintz had already surpassed his entire point total from the previous game, leading the Orange in scoring with 11 points.

“I’ve been frustrated with that five-point game up until this game,” said Mintz. “It was disappointing but losing was more disappointing than anything …we wanted to get back in the win column and that’s what we did.”

Syracuse’s sophomore guard Justin Taylor complemented Mintz’s scoring with a dynamic performance, notching up 8 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals in the first half.

The second half saw both teams intensify their efforts. Sophomore forward Chris Bell emerged as a three-point threat, sinking four-of-seven attempts from beyond the arc. However, the half was not without its challenges, with the home team marred by tough foul calls.

Cornell's Chris Manon (#30) goes up for a shot against Syracuse's Chris Bell (#4) during Tuesday's game.
Kayla Breen
Cornell’s Chris Manon goes up for a shot against a strong defense set by Chris Bell during Tuesday’s game.

Mintz reached four personal fouls with 12 minutes in the game and sat out for nearly 10 at the end of the second half. He would come back for a critical possession with less than two minutes on the clock.

Mintz, now back on the court, faced immense pressure as he stood at the free-throw line. The game hung in the balance as he missed two crucial free throws that allowed Cornell to narrow the gap. Still, sophomore guard Quadir Copeland sank two free throws of his own to seal the game.

The final moments of the game featured an exclamation mark from Syracuse, with a powerful dunk by Copeland and Mintz sending a resounding message to their opponents.

Syracuse's Judah Mintz (#3) celebrates a 3-point-shot in the last minutes of the Tuesday's game against Cornell.
Kayla Breen
Judah Mintz celebrates as Syracuse bounces back against Cornell.

Player highlights underscored the depth of the Orange lineup.

Taylor’s all-around performance included 15 points, 6 assists and 8 rebounds, showcasing his versatility. Mintz, with 28 points and five made three-pointers, demonstrating his shooting his worked on all summer. Bell’s sharpshooting contributed 19 points, hitting five-of-10 three-point attempts.

Though third in scoring in the game, consistency hasn’t always struck Taylor this season. He said this is something he’s aware of and when shots aren’t falling, it’s about the little things.

“My shootings been a little up and down. A couple rough games but it’s all about moving on and always being aggressive and confident,” said Taylor. “Look for my shot but also playing defense, rebound, and getting out in transition.”

Despite the success, there was still a posing question. Where is Benny Williams?

“I played the guys that I thought could help us,” said Autry. “This was a particularly hard game, and I played the guys that I thought could help us win.”

Williams missed the first two games of the regular season due to a suspension for an undisclosed violation of team rules. The sophomore forward returned for SU’s next two games, but then was once again benched during the team’s loss to Gonzaga, which was also reported as a disciplinary action for breaking a team rule.

This Saturday the Orange will head to the capital to battle Georgetown. Tip-off is set for 11:30 a.m. inside the Capital One Arena.