No. 5 Syracuse 85, St. Bonaventure 72

BY foxsports • December 22, 2009

St. Bonaventure was holding its own against Syracuse's bigger and better inside players.

Then the fifth-ranked Orange took things outside.

Brandon Triche and Andy Rautins each hit consecutive 3s during a second-half surge, and Syracuse turned back every rally by the pesky Bonnies in an 85-72 victory Saturday night.

``We were a step slow defensively in the first half but got a little quicker in the second half,'' said Syracuse coach Boeheim. ``Brandon made a couple of 3s to give us some space and then Andy hit two big shots.''

Triche's 3s gave Syracuse (11-0) a 51-39 lead with 15:39 left in the second half, and the pair of 3-pointers by Rautins within a 15-second span a few minutes later gave the Orange enough cushion to hold off St. Bonaventure.

``This was a real physical game,'' said Rick Jackson, a 6-foot-9 junior who finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds. ``It was a game where whoever outworked the other team was going to win. I think we outworked them at the end.''

Wes Johnson finished with 17 points and Kris Joseph came off the bench to add 17.

``We knew it was going to be a physical, but we were up to it,'' said Johnson, who also had 10 rebounds. ``By far, this was our most physical test of the season.''

Andrew Nicholson and Chris Matthews kept it close for the Bonnies, who trailed 39-35 at halftime. Matthews hit three 3-pointers and Nicholson scored 14 of his 18 points in the first half before being ejected with 8:29 left in the game for committing a flagrant foul on Rautins.

Nicholson's foul came just after the Syracuse guard hit his two 3-pointers to give the Orange a 69-54 lead with 9:19 left.

Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt called the foul ``an error in judgment.''

With their 6-foot-9 leading scorer sent to the locker room, the Bonnies had a tough time handling Jackson and Johnson inside. After the Bonnies pulled within 79-67 with 2:41 left, Johnson and Joseph scored consecutive baskets to put the game away.

Until being tossed, Nicholson was holding his own with Syracuse's big men, scoring off an array of dunks, jump hooks and short jumpers.

``I thought we did a good job getting it down low,'' Schmidt said. ``But Syracuse is good. They're long and they're athletic.''

Matthews finished with 17 points and Jonathan Hall had 10 for the Bonnies (6-4), who are 0-9 in the Carrier Dome and have lost 12 straight to the Orange.

St. Bonaventure trailed 18-11 before rallying to take 35-32 lead on Nicholson's jumper with 3:34 left in the first half. Jackson's layup and Johnson's 3-pointer handed the lead back to the Orange with 1:57 left, before Joseph's two free throws finished the scoring for the half.

Matthews finished 4 for 18 from 3-point range and credited Syracuse's defense in the second half for making adjustments to keep him off balance.

``I need to be more focused and tuned in to the shots,'' he said.

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