Limited offense plagued large portions of the game, the opposing defense ignored Syracuse’s big-men in various sets, threes flew over the 2-3 zone and landed where BC wanted them. 82 shined under BC on the scoreboard and Luka Kraljevic flushed a 14th and final three.
The loss followed the archetype of many that have exposed the fatal flaws in a team that’s routinely redeemed itself behind streaky wing scoring and a defense that’s proved gritty and active. Tyus Battle scored 29, but the Eagles likely scorched enough offense through SU’s zone to secure this as another NIT year for the Orange following an 85-70 loss.
Whether deep in the right corner, up top in traffic, or catching kick-outs on the line after a loose ball followed a miss, the Eagles exhibited nearly every way to hit a three as they nailed 9-of-17 to start Wednesday’s game in Chestnut Hill.
Battle countered the high-flying Eagles offense, hitting his first three attempts outside and capping a 9-0 run after SU decided to break into the paint offensively late in the first half.
The Eagles set a high-paced tone early, playing aggressive defense deep beyond the three point line. In the first ten minutes they committed only one turnover and forced six on the Orange. Jerome Robinson hit an elbow jumper stepping inside the line, Steffon Mitchell dunked in transition while Ky Bowman and Jordan Chatman traded threes to build an early lead.
BC hit five of its first seven three-pointers, including three in a row, building a 10 point lead early in the half. The Orange spent this period starting 0-of-5 inside the arc, before Oshae Brissett buried a dunk over Mitchell after Paschal Chukwu handed off his offensive rebound.
A deep three by Bowman on the right wing extended the Eagles lead to 27-16, while Nik Popovich, sitting on the baseline waiting for SU’s defense to move up (much like Marvin Bagley did) dunked and kicked out a pass to Robinson for a deep two. Midway through the half BC held 61 percent field goal, 67 percent three-point splits.
In a steady hole, Syracuse turned the game around by deciding to dig into BC’s interior.
Battle caught two pass attempts along the perimeter and took them full court for four points, Brissett slammed through the front line again for another dunk but BC padded its lead with another Popovich kickout to Robinson for three then a fifth heave from Bowman.
‘Cuse entered the half down 40-37 after trailing by as many as 13.
Mitchell reclaimed BC’s steady lead, pushing a up by seven slamming back Bowman’s missed deep two on the right wing, breaking through an open lane up the middle. BC extended up nine, before Brissett poured in a loose ball he picked up from three, but Chatman quickly responded with a make in the right corner.
Chatman followed feeding Robinson twice, once on the cut for a layup and then on the fast break into a free throw split, reclaiming a 10 point advantage.
Robinson’s scorching streak continued with another three above the break, and a full-court score in transition. Down 13, Battle pulled SU back from the brink a catch-and-shoot three after Matthew Moyer tipped out a rebound to Howard, Battle’s fifth, on the left wing.
A pair of turnovers, Moyer blocking Bowman’s three and Battle catching Popovich’s pass, got SU within seven 30 minutes in on Battle’s three-point play within seven. BC, against Syracuse’s press, posted a 4-0 run in seconds. Bowman followed Howard’s three with a put-back inside then stole a pass from Brissett and ran away as Howard grabbed from behind with a big smile on his face.
The referees convened, called a flagrant on Howard and the Orange sank back down 12.
Chatman poured three more on in the immediate aftermath, a swing of passes lead to two wide open looks at the top of the arc he split.
The Orange, into the final minutes, worked the deficit back to 10 and forced a back court violation but the momentum of Battle’s loose ball grab and feed to Brissett at the rim for a make quickly drained thanks to a travel call.
BC and SU chased each other around in the press for the final few minutes, but as Popovich rushed after one more missed shot inside and poured it back down with just over two minutes left, Syracuse’s fading tournament hopes seemed to flow through the drain with it.
It was in Boston, too, that the Orange suffered one of its most detrimental losses in missing March last year.