Syracuse Orange men’s basketball began preseason play with a less-than-inspiring performance, but the young squad came alive in the second half to pull past the IUP Crimson Hawks
A 16-0 run in the middle of the 2nd half was the turning point, as SU erased a seven-point deficit and kept the lead for the rest of the game. That run included seven in a row from Benny Williams, who ended up with 15 on the night.
Joe Girard led the scoring with 17 points, followed by Jessee Edwards with 16, Benny’s 15, and Judah Mintz with 14.
The first half was not particularly pretty, with the Orange showing the rust you’d expect in their first tune-up. The problem is IUP was showing little of the same.
Jesse Edwards got the Syracuse scoring started with a layup, and JGIII followed that up with a three. After that though, IUP showed why they won 33 games and made it to the DII Final Four last season.
The Hawks took advantage of second chances in the offensive zone and picked apart both Orange defensive looks. Yep, there was some brief man D in the early going, before they settled into Zone Mode.
Syracuse almost escaped into the locker room with a small lead, but Dave Morris hit a buzzer-beater from deep to give the visitors a one-point advantage, 33-32, at halftime. He led all IUP scorers with 21 points on the night.
The Orange came out of the locker room sluggish, giving up repeated fast-break opportunities and offensive boards a plenty. With the score 54-47, their offense finally woke up and turned the tide.
Edwards had a night-and-day difference in the two halves, taking control of the offense in the second half. Mintz also turned things around after the break, burying a pair of threes and looking a lot more relaxed under pressure.
All-in-all, twelve ‘Cuse players saw the court in the game.
It’ll be same place, same time next week. The Orange are back in the Dome Tuesday at 7 to host Southern New Hampshire in their second preseason game. After that, the regular season begins the following Monday against Lehigh.