SYRACUSE, N.Y — The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team was able to hold off a late Boston College rally to win 69-59 and remain unbeaten at home on the season. The Orange (11-4, 2-2) surrendered the lead late, but held off the Eagles (10-5, 1-3) to win its eleventh straight game against Boston College.
Chris Bell led all scorers with 20 points on 4-9 outside shooting while Maliq Brown scored 19 points and grabbed eight rebounds in his first start of the season. Naheem McLeod missed his first game of the year with a right foot injury.
Brown and Quadir Copeland made their first appearance in the starting five as Judah Mintz did not start for the first time in his two-year Syracuse career due to a violation of team rules. JJ Starling, Chris Bell and Justin Taylor, all usual starters, rounded out the starting five.
Syracuse jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead behind two threes from Bell and Taylor as well as a Brown bucket inside from a Copeland feed. Boston College would end the run there and stay with Syracuse up to the second media timeout.
Syracuse and Boston College would pick up the pace from there, which yielded mixed results for both teams. Bell was the beneficiary of two fast break dunks, however, as his windmill slam gave Syracuse a 14-7 lead by the second media timeout. Mintz, Kyle Cuffe, Benny Williams and Mounir Hima all checked in for Syracuse at the 10:39 mark after an extended wait for a dead ball at the scorer’s table.
Copeland, playing with expected brio, found multiple ways to impact the game. He brought the energy. He rebounded in traffic. He passed up a wide open layup only to throw a behind-the-head pass which was interrupted and somehow led to a Mintz three. He had a euro-step reverse layup in transition, finishing with his off hand. Then he stole the ball and found Brown, who was fouled at the rim.
From there, Bell stole the ball and threw down his third transition dunk of the half to give Syracuse a 28-9 lead as Boston College called its second timeout. For its part, the Eagles looked flummoxed on offense, turning the ball over 13 times in the first half which led to 16 Syracuse points.
During the last stretch of play Cuffe replaced Copeland and scored immediately. But Boston College went on a 8-0 run to end the half as Claudell Harris made a triple and Mason Madsen scored on a drive and connected on a deep ball just before the halftime buzzer. Syracuse went into the break with a 32-22 lead.
After not starting in the first half, Mintz started the second for Syracuse. The Orange extended its lead with a Brown bucket inside followed by another three from Bell, his third of the game. The Eagles answered with Devin McGlockton, who scored twice inside. Taylor scored for Syracuse and Starling followed suit, but McGlocktown scored again down low. Syracuse led 43-30 after two Mintz free throws.
The Eagles’ Harris put some game pressure on Syracuse as he hit back to back triples, trimming Syracuse’s lead to seven with just over 12 minutes remaining. Brown hit a pair of free throws and the Orange forced a stop before Madsen hit another three and made it a six point game. Autry implored his team to space the floor in the halfcourt as Copeland responded with a drive to his right and finish off the glass. But Boston College’s Chas Kelley scored on back-to-back drives to make it a four point game with 8:53 to play.
Madsen hit another three to make it a one point game and from there it was nip and tuck down the stretch. Prince Aligbe gave the Eagles its first lead of the game with 7:27 to go. But Bell’s fourth three gave the lead right back 52-50. Chants of “Let’s go, Orange” broke out and Brown threw down a putback dunk to boost the lead back to four.
Still, with Boston College hard on Syracuse’s heels, McGlockton scored down low and followed it up with a three point play which tied the game at 55 with five minutes remaining. On the ensuing possession, Copeland was able to feed Brown for dunk, which gave Syracuse a 57-55 lead. Two Mintz free throws made were neutralized by an Aligbe scored inside. But once again it was Copeland who had a deft drive and no-look dish to a cutting Brown for a finish — who else?
Clinging to a four point lead with under three minutes to play, the JMA Dome was eerily quiet. So much so, a single fan could be heard shouting, “You’re too quiet, people!”
Right after, Mintz drew Quenten Post’s fifth and final foul and the crowd was resuscitated to a collective audible cheer. Post was held scoreless for the first time all season. Mintz made both free throws and Syracuse went up six with 2:13 to play. Bell somehow buried a baseline jumper before the shotclock expired which all but put Boston College away. A late Brown steal and slam put a bow on this one as the Orange won 69-59 to beat the Eagles for the eleventh consecutive time.
Syracuse travels to Chapel Hill to take on North Carolina this Saturday. That game tips at noon from the Dean Smith Center and airs on ESPN.