By Paul Casey Gotham
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – With sixteen and change remaining in the second half of Sunday afternoon’s upstate New York basketball clash at the Carrier Dome, Jim Boeheim put his right fingertips into his left palm signaling for a timeout. The Syracuse Orange coach had seen enough.
Greg Logins had knocked down his fourth three of the afternoon, and the Canisius Golden Griffins pulled to 41-37 with an 8-2 run. The game teetered in balance. For the third time in 25 minutes of play, Canisius sustained a Syracuse run and continued battling.
Whatever Boeheim said in the huddle, the Orange comprehended it.
Brandon Triche hit a three on the ensuing possession. Rick Jackson followed with a jumper in the lane as Syracuse went on an 8-0 run en route to an 86-67 victory in a non-conference match up.
“They have another gear that they get to, and they really know when to turn it on,” said Canisius coach, Tom Parrotta. “I think they saw that we were coming back and making some plays, and they turned it into one of those gears that I think nobody else has in the country. They just have that aura about them that they can do it. Ultimately, they just wore us down.”
After connecting on just 12 of 39 shots in the first half, Syracuse shot 52.5 percent in the second stanza to outscore the Griffs 54-38.
Triche scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half while Jackson added 11 of his 17.
“Brandon came out aggressive in the second half,” said Boeheim. “He’s got to look for his shot. When he gets it, he’s got to take it.”
The sophomore hit a trio of threes in the final twenty minutes and finished with four to lead the Orange.
When Triche was not hitting from the outside, Syracuse’s front court took control in the lane. After outrebounding the Griffs 30-29 in the first half, the Orange dominated the glass in the second half grabbing a 28-14 advantage. Baye Moussa Keita pulled down nine of his game-high 15 boards after the break.
“Baye made a huge step up,” mentioned Boeheim. “He turned our whole rebounding game around. We don’t win without him.”
The lead changed hands three times in the first half. After Gaby Belardo found Elton Frazier with an alley oop for a dunk, the Orange went on a 9-0 run. Triche hit a three. Kris Joseph scored in the lane, was fouled and converted the free throw. Jackson hit a jumper in the lane, and Scoop Jardine went the length of the court for the 9-2 lead.
Julius Coles stemmed the tide. The senior hit a pull-up jumper from the left side of the basket. Frazier grabbed an offensive board and finished. Logins checked in off the bench, and with his first touch caught a pretty pass from Belardo and converted for the 11-8 score.
Forty seconds later, Logins connected with first from behind the arc, and the game was tied at 11.
The teams exchanged blows throughout the remainder of the first half. The Griffs took the lead in the tenth minute when Logins connected again from long range. Canisius held the lead for the next five minutes before the Orange outscored them 7-3 in the half’s final three minutes.
“We came out in the second half: I didn’t think we had that fighter’s mentality,” added Parrotta. “We allowed them to get a little separation.”
The Griffs committed seven turnovers in the second half, and the Orange converted those miscues into nine points.
“At times it felt like there were seven or eight people out there,” said Coles when talking about the Syracuse defense. “I guess it’s just because of how big and athletic they are. They get to those spots quicker.”
After hitting fifty percent from the field in the season opening win over St. Bonaventure, the Griffs hit thirty-four percent Sunday afternoon.
“They are just more able to get out to our shooters,” noted Parrotta. “They rush you a little bit. I thought the soft spot in the zone was the middle. We got it there a few times. You got to really punish people after you get the ball to where you want to. We just did not make enough shots.”
Frazier registered a double-double in his final regular season appearance in his hometown. The Syracuse native led the Griffs with 12 rebounds to go with 16 points. The Corcoran High School graduate did not allow a torn finger nail to keep him from finishing with a pair of his patented dunks – one a putback slam of a Logins miss.
“I just treat it like any other game,” said the senior. “It’s a plus coming home to play in front of my family and friends, but I just treat it like any other game and work really hard.”
When asked about his second slam, Frazier replied: “I’d rather have the win. We’ve been here before. We were ready to come here and win the game.”
“Whether he’s in the Dome, or he is in the Koessler Center, or he’s out in Lamar in Texas in a month or so, it’s irrelevant to him,” said Parrotta when talking about Frazier. “He plays the same way every day. What you saw today, you see every day in practice. There’s only one gear for Elton Frazier, and that’s as hard as he possibly can play.”
Canisius falls to 1-1 with the loss and will host Eastern Michigan, Saturday, November 20th. Game time is 2 p.m. at the Koessler Athletic Center.
With the win, Jim Boeheim moves into fourth on the all-time wins list with 831 victories. The Orange host Detroit Tuesday night.