The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team (14-7, 5-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) cut a 14-point second-half deficit down to two but ultimately couldn’t breakthrough in a 80-75 loss to Boston College (13-8, 4-6 ACC) on Tuesday night.
It was truly a game of runs in Chestnut Hill. Syracuse got out to a seven-point advantage midway through the first half, to which BC responded with a 21-0 run that trickled into the second half. Strong bench play from Quadir Copeland and Benny Williams got the Orange back in the game, but their defense became nonexistent over the final nine minutes.
Neither team could buy a bucket to start. The Orange missed their first six shots spanning over four minutes before Justin Taylor converted an uncontested layup. BC came in averaging just under 10 turnovers per game but racked up three of them by the first media timeout.
The home team got out to an early 7-2 advantage, but Maliq Brown put a dent into the Eagles’ lead by stepping up and knocking down a wide-open three from the top of the key. Judah Mintz followed one possession later with an acrobatic finish on the right block to even up the score.
After combining for 12 points the first time against Boston College, the tandem of Mintz and J.J. Starling flipped the script this time around. The two scored 11 midway through the first half, and a dunk by Mintz capped off an 18-4 rally, forcing an Eagles’ timeout.
Took the handoff to the house!— Syracuse Men’s Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) January 31, 2024
But Mintz picked up a silly second foul attempting to steal an inbounds pass with 4:43 on the clock in the first, sending him to the bench with the Orange up by five. From there, the game turned on its head. Syracuse’s offense stalled without their leading scorer, settling for contested midrange jumpers on multiple occasions.
Boston College roared back with a 14-0 run in less than three minutes to snatch back the lead. Devin McGlockton piled on six points in seconds, four from the paint and two from the free-throw line. To make matters worse, Starling hit his head on a block attempt and was immediately taken out.
SU limped into halftime having missed its final seven shots of the first half, trailing 37-30. In addition to their shooting woes, the Orange also got outrebounded by eight on the defensive glass. BC’s leading scorer, Quinten Post, didn’t scratch the scoresheet in first meeting between the two squads but tallied team highs in points (7) and rebounds (5) going into the locker room.
If you thought the end of the first half was terrible, things only got worse at the start of the second. Jaeden Zackery continued the Eagles’ run with a mid-range jumper, and Chas Kelley blew by a weak contest from Mintz and right to the bucket for two more. After Mintz’s fourth turnover on the ensuing possession, Zackery splashed a three, highlighting an absurd 21-0 run dating back to the first half to give the home team a 14-point advantage.
Mintz finally broke the ice with a layup out of an SU timeout, breaking an over seven-minute scoreless streak. With that, the momentum started to sway back in the Orange’s direction. Unselfish play and pretty passing from Benny Williams and Quadir Copeland led to two wide-open layups, and two and-1 finishes by Brown got Syracuse within six.
When Copeland attacked the lane and converted inside, it marked the 10th straight field goal made by the Orange, getting them back within four with 11 minutes to go. Williams picked up a pivotal offensive rebound on the next possession, and a dazzling pass from Q to Brown made it a one-score game.
Leading the charge in the second half pic.twitter.com/7sOoFe3W47— Syracuse Men’s Basketball (@Cuse_MBB) January 31, 2024
Unfortunately, that was as close as SU would get. Claudell Harris Jr. caught fire off the home bench, banging home three triples and a layup in just over two minutes, ballooning BC’s advantage back up to 12 with 5:40 left.
Free-throws were also a major problem for the Orange in the second half. Brown missed all four of his attempts, while Mintz missed both of his attempts, the fewest he’s taken in any game this season. The team shot 7/14 from the stripe, well below its season average of 72.3%.
Williams knocked down a three-pointer to get SU within six with just over a minute left, but an airball by Mintz on his triple served as the knockout blow on any Orange comeback effort.