March 8, 2008

Syracuse scores pivotal home win

SYRACUSE, N.Y.(AP) Donte Greene and Jonny Flynn both scored 21 points and Syracuse beat No. 21 Marquette 87-72 on Saturday to remain in the hunt for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

It was a must-win game for the Orange (19-12, 9-9 Big East), who won their second straight after blowing an 11-point lead in the final 3 1/2 minutes and losing to Pitt a week ago.

Syracuse had won only two of its previous seven games to seriously jeopardize its chances of securing a postseason spot and was in desperate need of a quality win, and Marquette (22-8, 11-7), which had won six of seven, obliged.

Arinze Onuaku, a huge presence in the low post all game, and Paul Harris both finished with 14 points for Syracuse, while Kristof Ongenaet had nine points, four assists, three blocks and two steals.

Jerel McNeal led Marquette with 22 points and Wesley Matthews had 14. Dominic James and Lazar Hayward both finished with seven points after entering the game averaging over 13 points in league play.

Three weeks after upsetting then-No. 8 Georgetown 77-70, the Orange posted their second victory this season over a ranked team by shooting 18-of-26 (69.2 percent) and committing just six turnovers in the second half against the league leader in steals.

Greene started a 13-5 spurt early that gave Syracuse a double-digit lead the Golden Eagles couldn't overcome.

After McNeal's follow moved Marquette within 39-37 less than 2 minutes into the second half, Greene hit a hook off the glass and Ongeneat followed with two dunks, the second off his steal in the lane from Hayward and a court-long dash. Ongenaet was fouled on the shot and completed a three-point play for a 49-40 lead at 16:46.

Greene's 3 boosted the lead to 52-42 and the Orange never let Marquette get closer than 10 points the rest of the game.

Marquette, which entered the game fourth in the Big East in 3-point shooting at 35.9 percent, was 5-of-11 in the first half to stay close despite committing an uncustomary 12 turnovers that led to 11 points for the Orange.

Neither team led by more than three points in the first half until Syracuse broke a 23-all tie with six straight points.

Greene's jumper made it 29-23 at 3:19, but Dan Fitzgerald and McNeal followed with 3-pointers to rally the Golden Eagles, who trailed 36-31 at halftime after Matthews hit a runner in the lane with 2.5 seconds left.




 

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