Men's Basketball

Boatright, Napier outplay Carter-Williams, Triche, doom Syracuse to defeat in final Syracuse-UConn Big East matchup

Ryan MacCammon | Staff Photographer

Connecticut guard Ryan Boatright celebrates during the Huskies's victory over Syracuse. Boatright led all scorers with 17 points.


HARTFORD, Conn. – The disparity between backcourts became evident when time seemed to slow down for Ryan Boatright. As the final second of the first half dripped off the clock, Boatright shot a 3-pointer from the top of the key that barely fell through the net before the buzzer sounded.

It was an improbable shot that gave the Huskies an improbable five-point lead on a night where Syracuse’s backcourt was uncharacteristically unproductive.

Boatright’s 3-pointer proved this night belonged to Connecticut. The Huskies’ 66-58 win over Syracuse on Wednesday grew out of the spectacular play of Boatright and Shabazz Napier, while the Orange’s backcourt of Brandon Triche and Michael Carter-Williams missed shots, committed untimely turnovers and failed to control the Huskies’ overwhelming guard play.

“Their backcourt is very good and they use those guys and they control the game,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “A tremendous backcourt.”

Boatright shot 6-of-10 from the field, 3-of-4 from beyond the arc and finished with 17 points and four assists. Napier took care of the rest in the back, adding 10 points and seven assists on 3-of-6 shooting. Carter-Williams and Triche, meanwhile, combined for four assists and seven turnovers.

Carter-Williams again struggled controlling the ball against smaller guards. Early in the first half, the 6-foot Boatright got underneath the 6-foot-6 Carter-Williams and stole the ball away. That kicked off a night where Carter-Williams, despite his 15 points, still could not provide enough offense to keep the Orange from suffering its latest loss.

Triche never picked up the slack. He shot 3-of-15. He was 0-of-7 from the arc. After the game, Triche sat at his locker and had no explanation for his uninspiring night other than to say it happens from time to time.

“I just wasn’t making shots. It wasn’t anything in particular,” Triche said. “I had open shots, I just didn’t make them. Shots I’m capable of making.”

Triche had good looks, but couldn’t take advantage. After the game, Boeheim didn’t go into detail about Triche’s struggles in a “bad” game.

“Good players have bad nights,” Boeheim said. “He’ll bounce back.”

But Triche’s problems weren’t limited to shooting.

With about five minutes left in the game, the Huskies began pulling away with a 57-48 lead. Their fans clamored for an upset, and Triche committed a critical turnover. He tried to pass down to Baye Moussa Keita in the low post, but Keita wasn’t there. The ball sailed out of bounds and Connecticut took possession.

Syracuse’s backcourt presence – or lack thereof – was continuously magnified by the electrifying play of Napier and Boatright.

With 13:04 left in the game, Napier stole the ball away from Triche. The guard burst up the court, and found Boatright flying in to the basket from the right. Napier delivered a perfectly placed pass to Boatright for a beautiful alley-oop that charged the XL Center crowd and left Syracuse’s players shaking their heads.

“Any time you can get a dunk or an alley-oop the intensity picks up tremendously, the crowd, the team,” Boatright said. “It makes everyone want to play defense harder, rebound. Any chance I can get to make a play like that I love it.”

It was one of many times where the Huskies’ offense simply clicked. Syracuse’s never did. Not with Carter-Williams and Triche struggling to take care of the basketball. Not with Carter-Williams and Triche failing to knock down shots from the arc. And certainly not with Carter-Williams and Triche racking up only three second-half assists between them.

With the game nearing its end and DeAndre Daniels standing at the free-throw line shooting his free throws, Boatright walked to the middle of the court. He waved his arms to tell the crowd to get louder.

From the time Boatright drained that big 3-pointer in the final second of the first half, handing momentum of the game to the Huskies, this night belonged to Connecticut.

It got away from Carter-Williams and Triche. Syracuse’s backcourt struggled while Connecticut’s put on a show.

Said Boeheim: “Their guards played extremely well tonight.”


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