Late surge pushes Syracuse past Seton Hall

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- The final meeting between Syracuse and Seton Hall in the Big East Conference tournament will be remembered for a nine-minute, 23-second sequence during Wednesday's quarterfinal round in Madison Square Garden.
No. 19 Syracuse, seeded fifth, found itself in a battle with the 12th-seeded Pirates but regained its composure to go on a game-changing run en route to a 75-63 win.
With the score tied and less than 13 minutes left, the Orange used a 19-2 burst to open a 65-48 lead with 4:44 to play. Brandon Triche scored seven of his 17 points in the spurt, and C.J. Fair contributed six of his 16 points.
The five-time tournament champion Orange will play fourth-seeded Pittsburgh in the semifinals on Thursday.
James Southerland led Syracuse (24-8) with 20 points, hitting six of nine 3-point attempts.
Syracuse and Seton Hall, both charter members of the Big East, will be going separate ways next season. The Orange are headed to the ACC, and the Pirates will be part of the new Big East.
Aaron Cosby led Seton Hall (15-18) with 22 points.
Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams tied a Big East tournament record with 14 assists, including eight in the second half. The mark was established by Mark Jackson of St. John's against Villanova in 1986 and tied by Dwayne Washington of Syracuse, also in 1986, and by Brandin Knight of Pittsburgh against Miami in 2002.
"Our offensive momentum was the best it's been, probably all year," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who improved to 48-28 in Big East tournament games. "We really moved the ball well. Mike (Carter-Williams) played, I think, his best game of the year, and James kept us in it when we weren't playing well.
"And then Brandon and C.J. got going in the second half."
Triche scored 11 points in the second half, and Fair dropped in 14 points after the break. Syracuse shot 56.3 percent (27 of 48) from the floor for the game.
Boeheim's team took its first lead, 36-34, on a dunk by Rakeem Christmas 14 seconds into the second half. Seton Hall tied it at 39-39 on a 3-pointer by Fuquan Edwin and again at 42-42 on a 3-pointer from Cosby with 16:19 remaining, but the Pirates were unable to put together any type of run the rest of the way.
"We did a great job playing in the first half," Southerland said. "Even though we got down, we made smart plays and moved the ball.
"The second half, we just took control."
With its roster depleted by injuries and a quick turnaround after Tuesday night's overtime win against DePaul in the first round, Seton Hall received little contribution from its bench. Tom Maayan, Haralds Karlis, Aaron Geramipoor and Connor Laverty didn't register a point in 18 combined minutes.
Baye Moussa Keita scored eight points off the Syracuse bench.
"To be honest, I think if we didn't have to play in the afternoon, I think we would have played a little better defensively," Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard said. "We watched a little film last night, but (the players) were spent."
Syracuse never led in the first half but drew even at 34 when Moussa Keita made one of two free throws with 40 seconds left.
Seton Hall was patient against Syracuse's 2-3 zone in the first half. Good ball movement led to open looks on the perimeter, and Kyle Smyth took advantage by burying three of the Pirates' six first-half 3-pointers.
Smyth had nine points, all from beyond the arc, as Seton Hall jumped out to a 16-6 lead, but he was shut down in the second half.
Syracuse countered with an 8-0 spurt on a layup from Carter-Williams and two 3-pointers by the 6-foot-8 Southerland, who scored 17 points in the half, to pull within 16-14.
"Seton Hall was a team I really didn't want to play," Boeheim said. "They really passed the ball extremely well. They used the whole clock, and they've got four guys that can shoot.
"We weren't active in the beginning. We left guys open, but we got better defensively."
NOTES: Syracuse posted a winning Big East record in 32 of 34 seasons. ... Triche's 139 starts are second in Syracuse history behind Derrick Coleman's 140. ... Edwin ranks fourth on Seton Hall's all-time steals list with 215. ... Syracuse has won at least 20 games in 35 of the 37 years that Jim Boeheim has been the coach. ... Carter-Williams, who is fourth in NCAA Division I in assists average at 7.8 per game, received the Big East's Most Improved Player Award.

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