Golden Eagles send Orange packing

Marquette hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with less than 30 seconds to play, and the Golden Eagles defeated Syracuse for the second time this year to end SU's season and advance to the NCAA's Sweet-16.

Freshman guard Dion Waiters scored a career-high 18 points, but it wasn’t enough as the Orange were upset by 11-seed Marquette, 66-62, ending Syracuse’s season.

SU was hampered by 18 turnovers and six charging calls on offense. Marquette used heavy pressure to prevent the Orange from running their offense, and Syracuse struggled to find any sort of offensive rhythm.

Photo: John Kuntz/Courtesy of The Plain Dealer
Marquettes Junior Cadougan takes a charge from a driving Brandon Triche in the second half. Triche suffered a bruised tailbone on the play, and did not return for the remainder of the game.

The loss of sophomore Brandon Triche didn’t help the Orange either. Triche landed flush on his back after going up for a lay-up in the second half and never returned to the game.

“Brandon took such a hard fall. He wanted to go back but I just didn’t think he could do it,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said in a postgame interview. “We would’ve liked to have had him at the end.”

In his absence, Scoop Jardine took over the role of ball-handler, but was part of three crucial mistakes down the stretch.

First, there was a miscommunication between Jardine and Waiters on an inbounds play, causing Jardine to step over the mid-court for a violation. Then, with the game tied, 59-59, a breakdown at the top of the Syracuse zone allowed Marquette’s Jae Crowder to drain an open 3-pointer for the go-ahead bucket.

Syracuse inbounded the ball and Jardine drove down the court and launched an off-balance shot from beyond the arc in traffic that clanged off the iron, signifying the end of Syracuse’s hopes for an NCAA title.

Early in the first half, it was all Orange as SU jumped out to a 10-point lead. Much of that was thanks to a quick start by Triche, who scored eight of Syracuse’s first 10 points.

Halfway through the first half though, Marquette’s defense began to buckle down, and started forcing turnovers. The Golden Eagles scored 22 points off of Syracuse turnovers. After trailing much of the half, Marquette took a three point lead into the locker room, 34-31.

Marquette used an aggressive, pressing, man-to-man defense to slow down the Syracuse transition game. This forced the Orange to run their offensive sets, which revolved around trying to get the ball to Jackson on the low post.

However, the Golden Eagles double-teamed Jackson every time he touched the ball and held Syracuse’s sole senior to just seven points and four rebounds – well below his usual average of 13.3 points and 10.5 rebounds.

“Well we knew they were going to (double team him). Everyone’s been doing it the last couple of weeks,” Boeheim said.

This also turned Jackson into a facilitator on offense, an unusual role for him. Jackson noted his struggles but emphasized that he knew that when he was double-teamed, he had to rely on his teammates.

“They were double-teaming me and I knew I had to take my time. I tried to find my teammates and be a play-maker today,” he said in a postgame interview.

With Jackson on lockdown, Syracuse was forced to try and beat Marquette using the Orange’s outside shooters. In the first half the Orange did just that. Waiters and James Southerland came off the bench and both made several shots to help SU.

In the second half Syracuse ran into trouble. The two freshmen big men, Fab Melo and Baye Moussa Keita struggled, and logged only nine minutes between the two of them. This forced Jackson to play center and limited his ability to grab rebounds.

Their absence in the game was a result of inexperience with the physical Marquette players, Boeheim said.

At the same time, the Orange guards went cold from beyond the arc, making just 1-of-8 attempts from beyond the arc. Syracuse drained 4-of-7 3-pointers in the first half.

Marquette didn’t shoot much better from long distance, but made two big 3-pointers down the stretch to get the win.

The Orange finish the season 27-8 overall and 12-6 in conference play.

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