SYRACUSE, NY (AP) — Marek Dolezaj led Syracuse with 17 points, a career-high eight assists and five rebounds, but it was a freshman from Montreal who provided the Orange hope for the future.
Quincy Guerrier, a 6-foot-7 forward, had 10 points and seven rebounds in just 15 minutes of action, including seven points down the stretch. Five Syracuse players scored in double figures and the Orange (7-5) defeated North Florida (7-7) 82-70 Saturday.
“Finally,” Dolezaj said. “When I saw him the first time over the summer I thought he’d be like this all the time. We need him like this. He just needs to play smart.”
Elijah Hughes scored 18 points, Buddy Boeheim chipped in with 16 and Joe Girard III had 14 and six assists as the Orange withstood North Florida’s barrage from beyond the arc. North Florida, which led the country with 162 made 3-pointers before the game, hit 17 of 46 from beyond the arc. The Ospreys have now made 10 or more 3s in 12 games this season. The 3-point attempts were the most ever against the Orange.
J.T. Escobar led North Florida with 19 points, 16 coming in the first half when he hit 5-for-7 from beyond the arc. Carter Hendricksen added 17 points, all in the second half. Ivan Gandia-Rosa and Garrett Sams each had 11.
Guerrier had scored a total of just six points in his previous four games, as he’s been slow to adjust to the college game, but he has tremendous potential and would be a huge boost for a Syracuse team that has little margin for error.
“Quincy was huge for us off the bench,” Buddy Boeheim said. “He really gave us that boost and sealed the deal for us inside. We knew he could do this all season. It’s a different game at the college level. We need him to step up to for us in the future. He’s big. He can dominate inside against anyone.”
“Quincy made a couple of big plays,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “Rebounding-wise I thought he was really good tonight.”
“He (Guerrier) came up huge,” North Florida coach Matthew Driscoll said. “His rebounds were the biggest part and he was able to get and-1s. I thought he gave them a great lift.”
“I was smarter,” Guerrier said. “Just played my position, went to the right spot.”
The game was tied at 54 when the Orange went on an 11-0 run in a span of three minutes capped off with a finger roll by Hughes with 9:06 to go that gave Syracuse a 65-54 lead.
For Driscoll it was a case of deja vu.
“It’s 54-54 and they go on an 11-0 run. That’s been our motto every game, every time. Against Iowa we were winning. Creighton we were winning. Florida the same thing. Teams go on these runs and once they go on these runs we just can’t come back. You can’t allow teams to go on 11-0 runs, especially at this level, playing an ACC team, on the road. It seems we can’t stop the bleeding.”
Syracuse had 22 assists on their 27 field goals.
“I don’t think you can do much better than that,” Boeheim said.
North Florida: The Ospreys put up a valiant effort and their 3-point shooting will keep them in many games.
Syracuse: If Guerrier can put together another solid game against Niagara next Saturday, the Orange could be onto something.
CROWD INTO IT
Jim Boeheim, who sharply criticized Syracuse fans for their lack of energy Wednesday, was complimentary this time around. He said the crowd was “tremendous” and made a “huge difference.”
North Florida has three more road games before returning home Jan. 9, a more than one-month stretch between games at their Jacksonville campus. Driscoll said it’s been wearing on the team “mentally.”
Hughes, Boeheim and Girard all played 40 minutes for Syracuse, which Driscoll took as a sign of respect. “That says a lot about what he (Boeheim) thinks about us.”
Syracuse center Bourama Sidibe took a pretty pass from Girard and slammed it home, getting the crowd up on its feet.
TALE OF TWO HALVES
Carter Hendricksen had all of his 17 points in the second half. J.T. Escobar had all but three of his 19 points in the first half.
The Ospreys have nine days off before their fifth game of a seven-game road swing at No. 13 Dayton on Dec. 30.
The Orange have a week off before hosting Niagara Saturday. The Purple Eagles first-year coach Greg Paulus quarterbacked the Orange for a year after transferring from Duke.