SU Basketball vs. Lehigh

Orange men's basketball wins season opener

The Lehigh Mountain Hawks made a push towards the end, but it was too little too late.

The Syracuse Orange used a solid defensive effort on opening night in front of 21,286 fans at the Carrier Dome to defeat the Lehigh Mountain Hawks by a final score of 57-47. 

“It doesn't look like a good win, but it is a good win,” head coach Jim Boeheim, who’s now coaching in his 40th season, told reporters following the game. 

Photo: Bryan Cereijo
DeJuan Coleman dunks the ball during Syracuse's win over Lehigh on Friday.

It was freshman Malachi Richardson who got the party started for the Orange in the first half. After the final preseason game against Florida Southern, he told reporters he was more than ready for his debut, and that proved to be the case on Friday night.

“I hit a couple of shots in the beginning and got a little fired up,” Richardson said after the victory. “I think we came out strong.” 

He scored the first six points of the game for Syracuse, contributing to his team’s 8-2 lead heading into the first timeout of the game.

Richardson’s versatility was on full display in this affair. He scored eight points in the first 7:45 of the game on two threes and a pull-up two. 

His presence was also felt in transition off of turnovers. With just over a minute left in the first half, Richardson spearheaded a fast break with an excellent pass to Tyler Lydon for a two-handed finish. 

Richardson finished with 14 points and six rebounds in 30 minutes of action. 

Kaleb Joseph, who shot just 20 percent from beyond the arc a season ago, send the crowd into a frenzy and the game to halftime with a buzzer-beating three pointer, giving the Orange a 32-12 lead. 

“It’s something I worked on,” Joseph said after the game. “Whenever you work on something, you naturally feel more comfortable doing it.”

But that wouldn’t be all she wrote for the sophomore, who started in 30 of the 31 games last season. 

The Mountain Hawks came out firing on all cylinders in the second half and forced a pair of turnovers that they converted into points. In the blink of an eye the Syracuse lead was just 36-30.

But a timely three for Joseph, followed by another by Michael Gbinije gave the Orange back the momentum. 

Joseph scored eight points on 2-of-3 shooting from the field., while Gbinije led Syracuse with 16 points on 5-of-13. 

The Orange fell in love with the three-point shot early in this game to the tune of 20 attempts from downtown in the first half (shot 6-of-20). They took more threes in the half than the Mountain Hawks did the entire game (17). Coach Boeheim said it was “probably too many.” Syracuse took 14 more in the second half, drilling five. 

It was pure dominance from a defensive standpoint for the Orange in the first half, holding Lehigh to just 2-of-23 shooting from the field (8.7%). The Mountain Hawks eventually got it going in the second half, shooting 44.8 percent, but it proved to be too little too late. 

It might not show up in the box score, but Lydon played extremely well and was active on both ends of the floor. With DeJuan Coleman picking up two quick fouls in the first five minutes and being plagued by this the rest of the way, it was incumbent upon others to step up and Lydon did just that. 

Up next, the Orange will host St. Bonaventure on Tuesday night. Syracuse will look to improve to 2-0 for the 12th straight year.

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