Playing their second game in less than 24 hours, fatigue became an issue as the Pirates fell to the Syracuse Orange 75-63 in the second round of the Big East Championship.
The loss ends the Hall’s season with a 15-18 record.
“They played the same way they played all year,” head coach Kevin Willard said of his team. “They played with a lot of heart, a lot of pride.”
However, playing on such short rest with three players seeing over 40 minutes of playing time the night before, the Hall just ran out of gas.
With the score tied at 46-46 with 13:44 remaining, No. 19 Syracuse ran away with the game. For the next 9:23 Syracuse went on a 19-2 run that diminished any hope the Hall had of pulling the upset.
“If we didn’t have to play at 2:00 p.m., we would have played a little bit better defensively,” Willard said. “I don’t know why you’d play a night game and then a day game. We watched a little film last night but they were spent.”
A bit of momentum seemed to carry over from the previous night though as the Hall started the game jumping out to leads of 13-3 and 24-14 behind 6-8 3-point shooting, including graduate Kyle Smyth going 3-3.
“Adrenaline and just knowing they were in zone,” sophomore Aaron Cosby said. “Against Syracuse you want to jump out on them. You don’t want to start the game playing catch up so were trying to move the ball fast and we have good shooters.”
Syracuse would not let the Hall pull away, mostly because of the play of senior James Southerland who had 17 of his 20 points in the first half. Down seven with 3:10 remaining, the Orange went on a 9-2 run to close out the first half to tie things up going into the locker room.
“Southerland, that guy can shoot,” junior Brian Oliver said. “He hit some big shots in that first half. Going in with a lead you feel a little bit better about yourself but a tie game we understood it was like a new game in the second half.”
Out of the locker room the Orange scored five quick points but the Pirates were able to close back in and tie it before Syracuse went on their run.
As a team the Pirates shot 51.2 percent from the floor and knocking down 10-20 from beyond the arc after going 4-18 from deep and needing overtime the previous night just to reach 40 points.
Sophomore Aaron Cosby led all players with a game high 22 points on 6-8 shooting including 4-6 from three. Junior Eugene Teague added 13 points and five rebounds while junior Fuquan Edwin had 11 before fouling out with 1:37 remaining.
Southerland led the Orange with his 20 points but senior Brandon Triche and junior C.J. Fair were close behind with 17 and 16 points respectively. Sophomore Michael Carter-Williams tied a Syracuse record in the Big East Championship by dishing out 14 assists.
The Pirates are not expected to make a postseason tournament and their three wins in Big East play is the team’s fewest since the 1985-86 season.
Stephen Valenti can be reached at email@example.com