Syracuse Overpowers Iona en route to Victory
The Syracuse Orange used its size and a career performance from one of its stars to beat down on the Iona Gaels to win 71-62 Tuesday night in the Carrier Dome.
Syracuse got out to an early 12-5 lead behind five quick points from Tyus Battle and four from center Paschal Chukwu. Syracuse worked to establish an inside presence as it had a clear size and strength over a weaker Iona team. Iona charged ahead 15-13, behind a 10-1 run but that was the last lead they would see. Syracuse closed the half on a driving layup by Frank Howard to bring their lead to 32-28 at the half. Howard and Oshae Brissett paced the Orange in the first stanza, scoring 10 points and 8 points, respectively.
The Orange built leads throughout the second half, but Iona kept it close throughout. With 5:37 remaining in the game, the Gaels pulled to within 56-54; that’s when Tyus Battle took over. The sophomore guard sunk jumpers on back-to-back possessions to give the Orange a more comfortable 6 point lead that they would not relinquish.
Offensively, the Orange were led by a Tyus Battle who turned in a game high 28 points, 23 of which were scored in the second frame, to go along with 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Junior point guard Frank Howard had his best game yet as he scored a career high 15 points, dished out 4 assists, and turned the ball over only 5 times, while playing all 40 minutes. This game made it clear that Battle is the go-to-guy for the Orange and that it is Howard’s job to get him the ball in late game situations. Freshman forward Oshae Brissett added 12 points as well.
Rickey McGill paced the Gaels with 21 points, but he did not get as “much” help as he needed to lead an upset bid against the Orange.
In my opinion, the unsung hero in this game for Syracuse was the front court-specifically, the centers Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe and forward Marek Dolezaj. The trio proved to be too much for the Iona “big” men to handle. Syracuse dominated the glass and forced Iona’s inside threats, TK Edogi and Roland Griffin, to foul out. Chukwu, Sidibe, and Dolezaj were relentless on the offensive glass, combining for 8 offensive rebounds. Additionally, Chukwu added 5 points, a game high 10 rebounds, and blocked 3 shots on the defensive end and Dolezaj contributed with 7 points and 6 rebounds off the bench.
Jim Boeheim may have established his 8-man rotation in tonight’s game. Down the stretch Boeheim relied on Howard, Battle, and his three freshman in the front court, Brissett, Dolezaj, and Sidibe, to help the Orange distance themselves from the Gaels. Chukwu provided good minutes inside throughout, but freshman Howard Washington did not see the floor and USF transfer Geno Thorpe and redshirt freshman Matthew Moyer were relatively ineffective.
Syracuse returns to action Saturday, November 18 at 7pm against Texas Southern in the Carrier Dome.