The Juice Online – Syracuse tests Gonzaga, but loses second in a row

A slow start doomed Syracuse, as it took them less than five minutes to fall behind by double digits en route to a 76-57 loss to #11 Gonzaga in second round play in the Allstate Maui Invitational. The Orange (3-2) gave up scores to the Bulldogs (3-1) on their first three possessions while they simply could not buy a shot early, falling into a quick 7-0 hole and never making it a one-possession game after that.

SU was simply woeful on offense, shooting just 35.9 percent overall in the game and a ghastly 3-of-24 from behind the arc, including missing their last dozen attempts. The Zags also pasted Syracuse on the boards, owning a 48-28 advantage and grabbing 17 offensive rebounds. Gonzaga converted all those extra chances into 25 second chance points.

Graham Ike and Anton Watson paved the way to that dominant effort on the boards for Gonzaga, as they each posted a double-double. Ike led the way with 16 points and 14 rebounds while Anton Watson had 12 points and 13 rebounds. Nolan Hickman’s 19 points paced the Zags while Ryan Nembhard added 11.

Judah Mintz led all scorers in the game with 22 points, making 9-of-14 shots in the game. J.J. Starling was the only other SU player in double digits, finishing with 15 points.

The Bulldogs had their way pretty much all game long, starting things with a 15-5 burst in the opening four-and-a-half minutes. The Orange chipped three points off that gap, but Gonzaga responded with seven straight for a 22-8 lead.

Syracuse tried to hang around, at one point running off seven straight points to pull within 27-19. The Zags kept them at arm’s length, however, eventually closing the half with the final six points for a 39-25 halftime advantage.

Mintz tried to carry the Orange back into the game, scoring six points and setting up a Naheem McLeod dunk for an 8-2 run that opened the second half. The two teams traded scores for about three minutes until SU hung another run, this one of 8-3, to draw within 51-45 shortly past the middle of the second half.

The teams each posted a basket, then Gonzaga had back-to-back 3’s to double their lead from six to 12. Syracuse got a deuce, but Gonzaga slammed the door with 13 straight points to grab their biggest lead of the day at 72-49 and cruised to the final horn.


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