SU defense holds Colgate in 69-50 win

The Orange shot poorly throughout the contest, but shot enough from the free throw line to keep lead on the Raiders.

The Syracuse Orange used a strong defensive showing to make up for a rough shooting performance in a 69-50 win over Colgate Saturday. The No. 9 Orange (3-0) shot poorly from the field (36.8 percent), from three-point range (29.2 percent) and from the free throw line (42.9 percent).

“We can’t miss the free throws and lay ups that we missed,” Head Coach Jim Boeheim said. “We have to shoot it a little better.”

Photo: Sarah Nathan
Forward C.J. Fair drives towards the basket past Colgate's Pat Moore (left) and John Fenton (center) during the first half of Syracuse's 69-50 victory over Colgate, 69-50, Nov. 16, 2013. Fair rounded out the game with 20 points.

However, what the Orange lacked in quality it more than made up for in quantity. Syracuse shot 68 times from the field compared to 47 for Colgate (0-2) and had 28 free throw attempts against the Raiders’ 10. Part of the disparity came from Syracuse’s 52-to-34 rebounding edge. The Orange were able to follow its own misses thanks to 26 offensive boards, while it often limited the Raiders to one shot per possession, or even zero in the case of Colgate’s three shot clock violations.

The gap on the glass wasn’t always that way, though, as the Orange held just a plus-four margin at halftime.

“In the second half we got on the boards better,” Boeheim said. “That’s something you obviously have to do if you’re playing a smaller team, you have to take advantage of your size.”

The other factor leading to Syracuse’s ability to put up more shots was its defense, which held Colgate to an even worse shooting day from the field (36.2%). The Orange used a 15-0 run over a 3:23 span to turn an 18-15 deficit into a 30-18 lead with under six minutes to play in the first half. During that stretch, Syracuse forced five of Colgate’s 21 turnovers. The Orange also applied a full court press at various points that caused Colgate more and more problems as the game wore on.

The Raiders relied heavily on the three-point shot, taking 59.6 percent of their shots from beyond the arc.

“Inside they really almost didn’t try to shoot,” Boeheim said with a chuckle. “You can’t beat us just shooting threes.”

As for Syracuse’s offense, the Orange worked inside predominantly, scoring 30 points in the paint. C.J. Fair led the team with 20 points and seven rebounds. He seemed to be the only one who felt comfortable shooting the ball throughout the entire game. Fair made that known early, taking Syracuse’s first three shots, hitting two of them.

“You obviously want to get everybody comfortable scoring the ball, and get production from everybody, but we rely on C.J. to score, so if he has to go in early that’s something we’re going to use,” Tyler Ennis said of his teammate.

Ennis chipped in with 12 points, however the point guard had no assists after totaling 12 in his first two collegiate games. He appeared to be looking for his own shot more this game, more confident in asserting himself into the action rather than being a facilitator.

“In their zone, once we got into the middle, they were filling in on Trevor [Cooney] and C.J. so I was just wide open,” Ennis said.

Cooney struggled shooting, going 2-for-9 from the field and 1-for-5 from three-point range. He was able to score ten points thanks to 5-for-6 shooting from the free throw line. Cooney said opponents are adjusting to him being more of a shooting threat this season.

“I don’t think I was on the scouting report last year, but I’m on there this year and teams are flying out on me,” Cooney said. “I missed a couple of them but they were all good shots.”

Michael Gbinije added 11 points but could’ve had more had he not struggled at the free throw line, hitting just five of 12 attempts. He also looked better at running the offense in his third game as the team’s backup point guard, dishing out a team-high three assists.

Gbinije credited assistant coach Gerry McNamara with his improvement at point guard. Practicing at the point guard position and doing more ball-handling drills also helped Gbinije become more comfortable at the new position, he said.

Syracuse has a quick turnaround after the weekend, playing again Monday at home against Saint Francis.

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