SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)—After losing three times in five games and with Big East play looming in less than two weeks, Syracuse humbled Hofstra to get back on track.
Demetris Nichols had 20 points to lead five players in double figures, and the 23rd-ranked Orange beat the Pride 85-60 on Friday night.
Syracuse (10-3) is unbeaten in eight games this season when four or more players reach double figures.
“That is a big key for us as a team,” said Nichols, who has scored 20 or more points in eight of the last nine games. “An awful lot of guys’ confidence is up, so we should come back with a lot of energy for the Big East.”
Eric Devendorf finished with 16 points—11 from the free throw line—Josh Wright and Paul Harris each had 12 points, and Matt Gorman added 10 to help the Orange snap the Pride’s six-game winning streak.
Hofstra (6-4) last visited the Carrier Dome two years ago and Syracuse had to overcome a six-point deficit in the final eight minutes, eventually winning 80-75. This time, it was no contest. Hofstra shot just 26.5 percent from beyond the arc against the active Syracuse zone defense and got into too much foul trouble in the second half to mount any charge.
“Syracuse’s size and length when they are in that zone and their ability to come out and contest shots made it very difficult,” Hofstra coach Tom Pecora said. “They did a very good job of extending their zone, and we weren’t able to make plays on the baseline.”
Syracuse, shooting 70.2 percent on free throws this season, took 40 foul shots, outscoring Hofstra 33-7 from the line. The Orange made 19 straight foul shots in the second half, one off the school record, so not scoring a basket for more than 8 minutes had no effect.
“We wanted to try and get to the basket, they don’t have a shot blocker,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “We had to try to get in there.”
The Orange did. Hofstra committed 24 personal fouls. Starters Zygis Sestokas and Carlos Rivera fouled out, and the other three first-string players each finished with three fouls.
“They just came out and played tougher than we did,” said Loren Stokes, who finished with 19 points despite taking intravenous fluids before the game because of the flu. “We didn’t play to our strength.”
Syracuse, coming off an 84-79 loss Tuesday night to Drexel of the Colonial Athletic Association, where Hofstra also plays, took charge in the first half. The Orange used an 18-4 run to assume command and never allowed Hofstra’s speedy guards to put together one of their signature spurts.
“It’s hard when the team raises the bar and they take it to another level and you don’t match that intensity,” Pecora said. “It not only affects your team, but the way the game is called.”
Antoine Agudio had 22 points to lead Hofstra, and Rivera had 11 points and nine rebounds before fouling out in the final two minutes.
Stokes, 11th in scoring nationally (21.8 ppg), Agudio (18 ppg), and Rivera (11.7 ppg) combined to score 26 points in the first half, but Sestokas was the only other Hofstra player to score in the opening 20 minutes, and he had one field goal.
The game was tied five times in the first 10 minutes before the Orange began to assert control. The Pride came into the game shooting 40.9 percent on 3-pointers but were only 3-of-14 in the first half (21 percent) and Syracuse took advantage by going 6-of-13 from beyond the arc.
Nichols, who had averaged 28.3 points over his previous four games, hit a 3 from the right corner at 9:28 to break a 21-all tie and begin the decisive 18-4 spurt. Harris fed Wright for a fast-break layup, Wright and Andy Rautins followed with 3-pointers from the left wing, and Nichols hit a carom off the glass to complete the spurt and give Syracuse a 39-26 lead.
Hofstra trailed 41-28 at halftime and fell behind by as many as 27 points in the second half as the Orange made free throw after free throw. Devendorf was 11-for-12, all in the second half, in his best outing since losing his starting spot four games ago.
“Tonight, I decided I was just going to go out and play,” said Devendorf, who had reached double figures only once in the previous six games. “I played like I used to. I needed to get some confidence back.”
Syracuse played without senior forward Terrence Roberts, who sprained his left knee in the loss to Drexel and is day-to-day. He sat on the bench in street clothes.