Men's Basketball

Colgate beats Syracuse 100-85 for 1st time since 1962 behind strong 3-point shooting

Elizabeth Billman | Senior Staff Photographer

The Syracuse zone stifled Colgate for the better part of 10 minutes as the Red Raiders began the game 0-for-12 from 3.

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Deep in the second half as Syracuse chased the game, Joe Girard III brought the ball down after a Jeff Woodward layup made it 87-79. Girard stopped and sent up a long 3, but it bounced off the rim and high into the air. Jesse Edwards grabbed the rebound and threw it out to an open Cole Swider for a corner 3.

Swider’s shot rebounded off the rim, but again bounced into Girard’s hands. Girard grabbed the ball and went back up for a layup, but his shot didn’t roll in. Again, Edwards grabbed the board and went up and again Syracuse’s shot just would not fall. Edwards attempted to follow his miss, but the whistle was blown and the center picked up his fifth foul of the game and trudged to the bench.

The sequence summed up Syracuse’s struggles on offense as the Orange tried and failed to keep up with Colgate’s dominant offense whose 3-point shooting led to the upset and Syracuse’s first loss of the season.

“A big deal to win in the Carrier Dome for any team in the country,” Colgate head coach Matt Langel said. “But for us, when it’s been however many decades since our program has been able to do it — I think since ’62 — it’s something that these guys will remember forever.”

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For the first time in almost 50 years, Syracuse (2-1) fell to Colgate (2-2) 100-85 as the Orange’s 54-game winning streak against the Red Raiders was snapped on Saturday night. Colgate fired 43 3-pointers on Syracuse, a record for 3-point attempts allowed by SU. Even as the Red Raiders opened 0-for-12 from deep, their 3s eventually began to fall and Colgate quickly regained the lead and secured the upset.

“They started out the game missing and I think we thought that it was our defense, it wasn’t our defense,” head coach Jim Boeheim said. “They were missing open shots. As the game progressed, they’re going to make those shots and we have got to be able to defend better.”

Just like last week against Drexel, Syracuse entered halftime down on the scoreboard. The Dragons shot 7-for-17 from 3 in the first half to take the lead, but failed to continue that momentum after the break. Colgate, on the other hand, got hot halfway through the first half and never looked back.

“Overall, we just can’t play defense like this,” Boeheim said. “It’s the same thing as the first half against Drexel, Colgate is just better against it.”

For the first 10 minutes of the game, it looked like Syracuse would run away with an easy victory. As the Red Raiders’ 3’s clanged off the rim and air-balled, Syracuse racked up the points in transition. Colgate tried over and over again to work the ball from side-to-side to and find open shooters. First, Jack Ferguson missed a 3, but even after grabbing an offensive rebound and passing out to the corner to Ryan Moffatt, he too failed to score.

The misses began to pile up and soon Colgate found themselves at 0-for-12 from deep. On multiple occasions, the Red Raiders would move the ball to the corner and then down to the post, but instead of taking a layup, they opted to pass it out again for a 3-pointer.

As Syracuse and Colgate traded missed 3s for buckets, the Orange’s lead crept up to 17-2 until Ferguson finally hit a 3 to end Colgate’s drought. In the first nine minutes, Syracuse stormed out to a 23-8 lead, but slowly but surely Colgate began to rain down 3s and regained the momentum.

“That’s how shooting goes. I don’t think that anybody wavered, started to doubt themselves,” Langel said. “And so then the tide changes, it’s a game of momentum.”

The first made 3 came from Ferguson almost five minutes into the game to make it 17-5 after he began the game missing five straight 3s. But once that first shot went in, the floodgates began to open. Nelly Cummings hit his first 3 soon after. The Red Raiders grew into the game, passing the ball from side-to-side and into the high post before popping the ball back into the corner for an open 3.

In just over 14 minutes, Colgate scored 44 points, with 33 coming from deep. The Red Raiders had almost as many makes in the final 15 minutes of the first half as they had misses in the opening 15 minutes. The Colgate shooters grew more and more confident and began to shoot long pull up 3s and drained them. Cummings launched a 3 with 30 seconds left in the half to give the Red Raiders a lead they would never surrender.

“When you play a team with that many good perimeter shooters, you gotta get there and we didn’t get there,” Boeheim said. “You can’t give people that many good looks. You’re not going to win any games.”

Colgate began to take advantage of Syracuse’s zone by capitalizing on defensive mistakes by the Orange. Swider picked up three fouls in the first half, forcing Benny Williams to fill in for Swider. Boeheim noted that Williams is still learning the Syracuse defense, so there were instances when he should not have been in the game, but was forced to because of Swider’s foul troubles.

Williams ended the night -28 in plus-minus, which Boeheim admitted that it was hard to argue in favor of Williams with that statistic. But it wasn’t just Williams who struggled. Boeheim pointed out that the centers are responsible for closing out on corner 3s, but failed to do that tonight.

“We did a terrible of adjusting and keeping the ball in the high post,” Boeheim said. “When it did get in there we just didn’t handle it very well.”

Colgate began to attack the high post through Woodward, who backed down Edwards and Frank Anselem. Buddy noted that Syracuse would rather have opponents play in the paint and force them to make tough layups and contested jumpers. But tonight, Woodward and Colgate continued to play the ball in the high post and passed out to an open shooter in the corner.

“They would swing it really fast to the corner which is really hard for us,” Edwards said. “That’s all my fault and something we can work on.”

Despite Syracuse’s best efforts to come back and avoid the upset, Colgate continued to pour down 3s. After missing their first 12 3s of the game, the Red Raiders made the next 18-of-31, scoring more than half of their 100 points from deep. As Syracuse heads to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament, which features teams like Baylor and Michigan State, Colgate might’ve provided the blueprint to defeat Syracuse this year.

“This is definitely a wake-up call,” Buddy said. “A punch in the face and we have to be better.”

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