Syracuse fails to protect 3-point arc in 74-70 loss to North Carolina State

first_imgUPDATED: Feb. 16, 2018 at 3:38 a.m.The situation called for the press. Anything the Syracuse defense did to that point proved futile. North Carolina State was hot, and with three minutes left in a game SU couldn’t afford to lose, there were few options left.It failed. NCSU guard Sam Hunt instead hit another triple, his fourth. And it came from the corner, a weak spot in a two-three zone when the forwards get caught up high or inside.But Oshae Brissett matched it. Down five, Tyus Battle drove and finished left. Down three, the Orange retained possession. Brissett got the rock on the wing and sunk a 3, pushing his point total to 25 on the night. He cocked back his imaginary arrow and let it fly into the seats. There was hope. SU could possibly survive another home scare. Maybe, the Orange could keep its Big Dance dreams alive.A game that was close for 40 minutes couldn’t get any closer in its last. Until the Wolfpack’s Markell Johnson sunk the dagger into Syracuse’s night — and maybe its season — with a 3 of his own a few seconds later in Syracuse’s (17-9, 6-7 Atlantic Coast) 74-70 loss to North Carolina State (17-9, 7-6 ACC) in the Carrier Dome on Wednesday night. It was the Wolfpack’s seventh 3 of the half and 10th of the night.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“The first half, I thought we did a much better job covering the 3-point line. Second half we did not,” head coach Jim Boeheim said. “I thought that was really the difference in the game.”Although no team will admit to looking ahead in the schedule, this was the last game the Orange is favored to win, according to Within its five remaining games, SU will host two top-15 teams in North Carolina and Clemson and travel to the ever-hostile Cameron Indoor Stadium at No. 12 Duke. All games that, if won, would surely bolster the Orange’s resume. All teams NCSU has already beaten.That was the glaring difference between SU and NCSU. Both teams sit near the NCAA Tournament bubble. The Wolfpack, boasting multiple wins over ranked teams, is considered one of the last in. SU, some experts say, could be the first out. Bracketology is not an exact science, but it doesn’t take an expert to realize winning the head-to-head has to put the victor ahead should these two teams be considered near-equals come Selection Sunday.Now, thanks to its inability Wednesday to protect the arc, SU must defy expectations in one of the roughest stretches of its schedule. It will likely have to secure its biggest wins of the season when anything else means two straight seasons of disappointment in the NIT. And it will have to do so with a depleted team that’s limping into March. Both Paschal Chukwu (back) and Marek Dolezaj (ankle) spent time on the bench Wednesday night wincing in pain. It’s hard to imagine a point in the near future where Matthew Moyer and Bourama Sidibe are both 100 percent. And the Orange’s first guard off the bench is a former walk-on, Division III transfer.“The room for error was always small,” Battle, a sophomore guard, said. “For us to win, we can’t make a ton of mistakes. And now it’s definitely crunch time to get some wins.”And with Wednesday’s loss, add one more drawback to SU’s case before the selection committee, because NCSU proved to be the more deserving team. Although SU entered Wednesday with the league’s second-best defense, NCSU brought an offense ranked fifth in the ACC. It was not hard to see those two offsetting qualities clash. And for 35 minutes, they did. In the first half, both shot near 50 percent and turned the ball over 10 times. The Wolfpack took a three-point lead to the break after shooting out of an early slump and trailing by as much as seven.Oshae Brissett leveled the score with a second-chance 3-pointer two minutes into the second half. Then he did it again with a steal and a fast-break dunk, igniting an explosive reaction from the scarce Carrier Dome crowd. Then a high-post jumper followed by a back-door cut, reverse-dunk. Brissett’s nine-straight points to open the half matched each Wolfpack bucket.Frank Howard, who finished with 16 points, six assists and four turnovers, dropped a few makes. Moyer, during his 28 minutes, added a jump-hook. A quick whistle helped, too; SU was in the bonus before the second media timeout and reached the double-bonus just after the 10-minute mark. But the Wolfpack always had that deafening response. Neither team led by more than two possessions at any point in the half’s first 16 minutes. The little separation that exists between their resumes showed in their play.With about seven minutes left, Howard knotted it at 56. Wolfpack guard Sam Hunt swished a corner three. Tyus Battle notched two at the line, but then Allerik Freeman sunk from deep. A few minutes later, Hunt added another triple. By this point, it was obvious what was killing SU. Postgame, Dolezaj said the defense must move. Battle mentioned NCSU’s overload. Brissett admitted they knew it was coming.“Locating 3-point shooters and taking care of the ball,” Howard said. “Those two things have been our issues all year.”Yet SU’s defense couldn’t plug the problem. The seven-point SU deficit felt huge. The press came out, and SU battled, but when the final buzzer sounded, the additional loss on its record felt a lot bigger than any difference in the score.CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, Allerik Freeman was misnamed. The Daily Orange regrets this error. Comments Published on February 14, 2018 at 11:34 pm Contact: [email protected] | @jtbloss Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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