No. 21 Rutgers turns up defense late for first win over SU in 17 years

Syracuse Orange forward Quincy Guerrier (1) drives the ball against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the first half at Rutgers Athletic Center (RAC). (Photo: Catalina Fragoso-USA TODAY Sports)

By PAUL CIFONELLI

Rutgers went on a 17-4 run over the final five and a half minutes to take down Syracuse, 79-69. It was Rutgers’ first win over the Orange since 2003. The Scarlet Knights’ run was led by Jacob Young and Myles Johnson, who finished with a double-double.

Rutgers’ defense forced the Orange into some bad shots late in the game, but Syracuse also forced up some tough looks early in the shot clock. When those shots went up and didn’t go in, a Scarlet Knight was there to grab the rebound and go the other way.

The start of the second half was all offense, as both teams were shooting over 70 percent for nearly the first six minutes of the half. It was Syracuse that settled in first in the half, as it went from down four to up three once the scoring pace settled down. Alan Griffin paced Syracuse in the second half with 15 points in the last 20 minutes.

Ron Harper Jr. stole the show in the first half for Rutgers, scoring the nets for 15 points in the frame on three makes from behind the arc. Rutgers led by 10 on two separate occasions, but Joe Girard III buried a three pointer with eight seconds left in the half to cut the Syracuse deficit to four heading into the break.

Rutgers, the No. 21 ranked team in the country, was paced in the scoring column by Harper Jr., who scored 26 points. Johnson backed him up with a 10-point, 12-rebound effort. Montez Mathis added 19 points, Young had 18 and Paul Mulcahy pitched in five to round out the victor’s scoring.

Syracuse was led by 20 points from Griffin. Quincy Guerrier made three threes, his total from all of last season, and finished with 18 points. Marek Dolezaj tacked on 14 points and both Kadary Richmond and Woody Newton notched six. Girard (3) and Robert Braswell IV (2) also scored for Syracuse.

The Orange will look to get back in the win column in their first ACC game of the season. Syracuse will travel to take on Boston College on Saturday at 1 PM. Rutgers’ next game will be on Monday at Maryland, which will also be its first Big 10 tilt and first road game.

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