SYRACUSE (AP) — A year ago St. Bonaventure got off to strong start in its upset overtime win against Syracuse at the Carrier Dome.
What a difference a year makes. Syracuse’s defense saw to that, dominating the Bonnies in an 81-47 victory on Saturday.
The Orange’s defense was tenacious, forcing St. Bonaventure (4-9) into a season-high 25 turnovers, including 17 steals, and Syracuse (9-4) scored 32 points off those miscues. Syracuse held the Bonnies to their lowest point total of the season. St. Bonaventure shot 35 percent from the field and 3-of-19 from 3.
St. Bonaventure had 14 turnovers in the first half alone, which Syracuse converted into 20 points.
“Against Syracuse, especially here at the Dome, you have to get off to a good start, and that’s what we did last year,” St. Bonaventure coach Mark Schmidt said. “When you get down 17-2, you’re rushing things and you feel you need to score quickly. You need patience. Human nature, you get behind, you force things.
“To play against a Syracuse zone and turn it over 25 times you’re not going to win,” he added. “We turned it over too many times and points off turnovers, 32-12, that’s a negative 20. You can’t win that way.”
Syracuse played perhaps its most complete defensive game of the young season.
“We were moving, had some pep in our step, played with a sense of urgency today,” said Syracuse junior Elijah Hughes.
“Our defense was consistent the whole game,” added Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.
Syracuse hit seven of its first eight shots to take the commanding 15-point lead to start the game and cruised to the easy win. The Orange shot a season-high 58 percent.
Tyus Battle, who last season had his worst shooting game of the year against St. Bonaventure (3 of 18), scored 10 of the first 12 points for the Orange and hit all eight of his field-goal attempts en route to a game-high 21 points. He was 5-of-6 from the line and had six steals.
“Yeah, I was a little keyed up for this one, I wanted to get (last year) back. Last year hurt,” Battle said. “I watched film before this game to prepare for how they were going to guard me to see what I could do differently. After I hit that first shot I felt like it might be a good day.”
Hughes had 16 points, freshman Buddy Boeheim had a career-high 12 points and Marek Dolezaj, starting his second straight game at center, added nine.
The Bonnies, who suffered their fourth straight loss, were led by Kyle Lofton’s 12 and Jalen Poyser’s 11. Courtney Stockard, who leads St. Bonaventure in scoring at 19 points a game, got into early foul trouble and scored just two points on 1-of-5 shooting.
Syracuse held a 46-25 halftime lead for the Orange’s highest first-half output this season.
St. Bonaventure: This wasn’t a great way to head into Atlantic 10 Conference play. While Syracuse’s zone caused problems, many of the Bonnies’ turnovers were self-inflicted. The Bonnies will have to take better care of the ball to have a chance.
Syracuse: The Orange offense is gaining momentum heading into ACC play with consecutive routs. While Marek Dolezaj won’t be able to start against many ACC centers, the offense has more movement and seems more fluid when he’s in the game.
Elijah Hughes has scored at least 15 points in six consecutive games.
STILL NOT HIMSELF
Point guard Frank Howard, who missed Syracuse’s first four games because on an injured ankle, is still not himself. Howard had just four points and four assists in 20 minutes.
MORE TIME NEEDED
St. Bonaventure players have missed a total of 34 games, and coach Mark Schmidt said it’s going to take some time for LaDarien Griffin, Melkisedek Moreaux, Courtney Stockard and Dominick Welch to get into game shape and develop chemistry.
St. Bonaventure begins Atlantic 10 Conference action Sun., Jan. 6 at George Mason.
The Orange opens ACC play Saturday at Notre Dame.