Lauren Murphy | Staff PhotographerMen's Basketball
HALL PASS: Orange grinds out road win at Seton Hall, punishes Pirates from free-throw line
NEWARK, N.J. — Michael Carter-Williams raced down the court, straight for the rim. Unconcerned by Seton Hall guard Aaron Cosby’s presence in front of him, the Syracuse point guard continued with a full head of steam down the right lane.
The pair collided and crashed to the floor. The whistle blew. A block was called and Carter-Williams made his way to the free-throw line for the third straight possession—all since Syracuse entered the bonus.
A smile escaped Brandon Triche as boos began to rain down from the Prudential Center crowd. Carter-Williams calmly sank his fifth and sixth consecutive free throws, doubling his team’s lead to 12 in a matter of 30 seconds.
“I was just trying to get to the line, be aggressive and knock down my free throws,” Carter-Williams said. “We needed to get to the line. They kept getting to the line so we knew the refs were calling fouls, so I just decided I’m going to go to the basket strong and try to get a few fouls.”
Carter-Williams’ perfect stretch at the free-throw line midway through the second half started the Orange’s decisive run in its 76-65 victory over the Pirates (13-13, 2-11 Big East) on Saturday night. Syracuse (21-4, 9-3) never trailed in the second half and received a career-high 29 points from Triche. But it was SU’s 11 straight points at the charity stripe – a run that lasted five-plus minutes and saw the Orange go 11-for-12 – that sealed the win.
Syracuse dug an early hole, shooting 33 percent in the first eight-plus minutes while Seton Hall shot 70 percent to take a 21-12 lead. But Syracuse’s zone buckled down and held the Pirates without a field goal for the next seven-plus minutes to turn the nine-point deficit into a three-point lead.
“Obviously when you get off to that kind of start, you’re not in good position,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “We had to get some stops and we had to score and that’s what got us back in the game.”
Once the Orange took the lead, it never gave it back. SU went into the half up by six thanks to its 12-point spurt.
But the Pirates remained within striking distance throughout the final 20 minutes. Four different times in the final 13 minutes, SHU cut the deficit to six points. The comeback attempts fell short, though, as SU hit big shots – like a 3-pointer by James Southerland and a putback by C.J. Fair – before clutch free throws decided the game.
Seton Hall entered the bonus with 12:13 to play after Baye Moussa Keita sent Pirates center Eugene Teague to the line. The 6-foot-9, 290-pound big man outmuscled Keita for the rebound and held strong as Keita and Triche tried to rip it away. The Syracuse guard sighed with frustration before watching Teague step to the line, where he’d hit two free throws, in what would become a recurring scene.
Teague was a mismatch in the paint. He gave Keita, Southerland and Rakeem Christmas fits underneath and went 6-for-10 from the line in the second half. As a team, Seton Hall went 12-of-24 from the stripe in the second half, failing to take advantage of the bonus to get back in the game.
“We kept fouling them,” Triche said. “I think we fouled them like 10 times in a row. They shot 50 percent, I think that was the biggest reason why there was like a little separation in the game.”
Syracuse shot 75 percent from the line in the second half.
Three Seton Hall fouls in 13 seconds put the Orange in the bonus with 10:09 to play. Syracuse led by six at that point, then Carter-Williams drilled six straight from the line in a 30-second span and the Pirates were suddenly staring at a daunting 12-point deficit.
A 3-pointer and layup by Fuquan Edwin gave SHU hope, cutting the SU lead to seven. But Teague missed three foul shots in that span before Christmas went to the line and hit one to give the Orange an eight-point cushion.
A pair of free throws by Teague cut the lead to 60-54 and forced a Syracuse timeout with 5:45 to play. Triche got into the lane and took a pull-up, missing short but drawing a foul in the process. He nailed both.
Edwin missed two more on the other end, and Christmas nailed two more for SU 23 seconds later to put his team ahead by 10. With less than five minutes to play, Syracuse was in control for good.
“We also hit our free throws,” Triche said. “I think that was the biggest thing that kept us in the game.”
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