The Syracuse Orange crumbed late, as they fell to the North Carolina State Wolfpack 70-74, failing to get a much-needed win over a fellow bubble team. It was the Syracuse defense that shockingly failed to hold its own, as the Wolfpack got easy look after easy look in the half court.
The first half was littered with turnovers, as both sides struggled to maintain possession of the ball when ball pressure was applied. The two sides combined for 20 turnovers (10 a piece) in the first half, as the sloppy play led to a 35-32 lead for the Wolfpack at the break.
Oshae Brissett got the scoring started with five quick points to open the game, but he picked up his second foul at the 17:21 mark which caused coach Jim Boeheim to send him to the bench. The dynamic backcourt of Frank Howard and Tyus Battle did their best to pick up the slack for the freshman forward’s foul trouble, scoring 15 combined points in the first half. However, the two players only combined for nine shot attempts, which is surprising considering they are Syracuse’s two primary ball handlers.
With the offense in a bit of a rhythm, the Orange still had a chance to give themselves a comfortable lead, but it was their typically reliable defense that led to their three-point deficit at the half. The Wolfpack dissected the Syracuse zone with ease, finding shots around the rim that either led to easy baskets or chances at the free throw line.
The second half started out as Brissett show, as he scored seven points before the under 16 minutes timeout. He tried to one up Battle’s first half slam with a thunderous dunk of his own, but it was his perimeter shooting that got he Orange back in this game.
The Orange decided to go small by putting Matthew Moyer in for the two centers, and it helped Syracuse use their speed and athleticism on both ends of the court. Moyer and Marek Dolezaj aren’t the most intimidating players inside, but their quick hands and ability to handle the ball a bit benefited the Orange in terms of controlling the pace of play.
Despite the Orange making some strides on offense, the Wolfpack matched every run Syracuse made with one of their own. They got hot from deep in the second half, getting easy looks off of passes from the high post.
With the game slipping out of Syracuse’s hands, Brissett’s breakout game continued (25 points) as a corner three tied it at 70 with under a minute to play. However, the defense failed the Orange again. The Wolfpack hit a three with 33.4 seconds remaining to regain the lead. Brissett couldn’t hit the three on the other end to tie it, and the Wolfpack closed it out to hand the Orange a devastating loss.
The Orange fall to 17-9 on the season, and 6-7 in the ACC.