Girard helps Syracuse jump out early to beat Seattle 89-67

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — The first collegiate start for freshman guard Joe Girard III couldn’t have gone much better.

Girard made five 3-pointers and scored 24 points in his first collegiate start, and Syracuse came out blistering to beat Seattle 89-67 on Saturday in the first meeting between the schools.

“He was good. He made shots,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “Joe’s not going to play like that every might, maybe he will, we’ll see. I think one of the reasons Joe has an easier adjustment is he had to do everything, every game, for four years.

He’s used to having the whole world on his shoulders every game for the last four years, so I think he doesn’t have the whole world on his shoulders now. He’s got a lot of guys out there who are good.”

A lot of other guys were good for Syracuse against Seattle.

Marek Dolezaj added 19 points for the Orange (2-1), one shy of matching his career best. Elijah Hughes finished with 15 points, Quincy Guerrier had 14 and Buddy Boeheim added 10. Dolezaj and Girard were each 7-of-8 shooting from the field.

But the star of the show was Girard, who said he didn’t feel any differently than coming off the bench.

“It’s the same. The coach is going to have you in there. It’s what you do when you’re in there. I just have to produce when I’m in there and help this team win games,” Girard said. “You have to play with confidence whether you’re a freshman, sophomore, junior or senior or even a grad student – that’s the name of the game.”

“Joe played great,” Dolezaj said. “He’s a freshman but he’s playing like a senior. He played really good and that’s what we need every day. If he plays like this we’ll be hard to beat.”

Joked Seattle coach Jim Hayford: “I wish they would have waited one more game to switch their point guards.”

Girard, the all-time New York State scoring leader, also starred at quarterback for Glens Falls High School, about 160 miles from Syracuse. It’s his football mentality that impresses Hughes.

“The first thing I think of when I see Joe is his toughness. He’s as tough as nails,” Hughes said.

Syracuse made its first 15 of 20 shots, including 7-for-10 shooting from 3, and finished the first half hitting at 63 percent.

Seattle (2-3) was just 9-for-33 shooting including 1 of 12 from beyond the arc in the first half. The Redhawks came alive in the second half, hitting nine of their first 12 shots, including seven from beyond the arc, to close within seven with just under 12 minutes remaining.

Syracuse slowly pulled away from that point.

“For whatever reason, in the first half, we didn’t put resistance against them,” Hayford said. “I wish we could have given Syracuse 40 quality minutes but they did what good teams do – expose you when you’re not playing quality basketball.”

The Orange had 18 assists on their 28 baskets and shot 60 percent for the game. They shot 7 of 14 from beyond the arc in the first half but just 2 of 9 in the second.

Terrell Brown scored 23 points for the Redhawks, who shot 37 percent for the game. Delante Jones added 12 points and Myles Carter had 10.

TIP-INS

Guerrier, a freshman, had the best game of his career for Syracuse. In addition to his 14 points, he had seven rebounds. … After scoring a career-high 37 against Pacific, Myles Carter struggled against the Orange, scoring just 10 points on 4-of-11 shooting. … Dolezaj filled up the stat sheet with four assists and three steals. … Jalen Carey, who started Syracuse’s first two games at the point, didn’t see the floor Saturday. … Former Syracuse player Dion Waiters of the NBA’s Miami Heat was in attendance.

BIG PICTURE

Seattle: The Redhawks showed a lot of fight in rebounding from a horrible start in a hostile environment, and showed improvement from beyond the arc. After making just one 3-pointer in the first half, they hit seven 3s after intermission.

Syracuse: The Orange offense was in sync from the outset with Girard at the point. The freshman guard has two more games against lesser opponents to get comfortable in the starting role before the Orange begin a string of five difficult contests.

UP NEXT

Seattle plays the middle game of a three-game road swing Tuesday against Mississippi.

Syracuse plays its second upstate New York opponent of the young season on Wednesday against Cornell at the Carrier Dome.

____

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25