The Syracuse Orange closed out 2023 by welcoming the Pitt Panthers for the 125th meeting between the schools.
It was spirited Saturday afternoon tilt as both schools knew this was a key game. The Syracuse bench keyed a second-half rally as the Orange came from down 8 at the half to hold off the Panthers for an 81-73 win.
Quadir Copeland paced Syracuse with a career-high of 22 points (13-15 from the line) to go along with 9 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals. Benny Williams had 15 points and 7 rebounds and Maliq Brown had 15 points, 8 rebounds and 2 steals.
It was a fast start to the game as the teams combined for 25 points in the first five minutes. Pitt hit 4 of their first 6 shots from behind the arc but Quadir Copeland came off the bench to hit his first 3 of the season and converted the foul shot to tie the game at 18.
The Panthers used their size on the offensive glass grabbing nine offensive rebounds in the first half. Not only did those rebounds lead to eight second chance points, but it kept the Orange from getting out in transition. Syracuse struggled down the stretch and after a 14-4 Pitt run, Syracuse found themselves down 38-30 at the half. Carlton Carrington led Pitt with 13 points while it was balanced scoring for the Orange behind Quadir Copeland’s 6. Mintz, but Syracuse was 1-10 from 3 and couldn’t convert late in the game.
Syracuse came out of the locker room with a 14-5 run to regain the lead. Once again the bench was the catalyst as Brown, Copeland and Benny Williams were active on both ends in the run.
Carrington led Pitt with 19 points but the Panthers were only 11-24 from the foul line on the afternoon.
The Orange (10-3, 1-1) are back in action on Tuesday night when they hit the road to face the Duke Blue Devils.