Freshmen Chris Bell and Judah Mintz made big shots in the final two minutes of overtime as Syracuse nipped Richmond 74-71 on Monday at the Empire Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Joseph Girard scored a career-high 31 points to pace the Orange (3-1), who will play either St. John’s or Temple in Tuesday’s title game. The loser of the Red Storm-Owls matchup will face the Spiders (3-2) in Tuesday’s consolation game.
With the game tied at 68-68 with just under two minutes left in overtime, Bell knocked down a midrange jumper to give Syracuse the lead for good. Mintz then stole the ball on the other end and made a turnaround jumper with 57 seconds left.
Girard converted two free throws with five seconds remaining to ice the game before Jason Nelson drained a meaningless 3-pointer at the final buzzer.
Richmond scored one point in the final six minutes of regulation and then mustered only eight points in overtime, including Nelson’s heave at the horn. The Spiders committed four shot-clock violations during the game’s final 11 minutes and missed 12 of their final 15 shots.
Isaiah Bigelow led Richmond with 17 points, while Nelson contributed 14 and Tyler Burton supplied 13 points and 15 rebounds.
Mintz chipped in 16 points for Syracuse, while Bell had 11 points to complement Girard’s big night.
Syracuse stormed out of the gates, taking a 14-2 lead on Girard’s layup less than five minutes into the game. Girard scored half of his team’s points during that opening surge.
Richmond finally caught up at 25-25, but five straight points by Girard helped the Orange take a 34-29 lead at the break. Girard scored 21 points on 9-of-13 shooting in the opening half.
Two quick 3-pointers by Nelson put Richmond in front early in the second half.
Bigelow’s trey with 17:49 remaining gave the Spiders their largest lead to that point at 40-37, and his 3-pointer with about six minutes left in regulation created Richmond’s first five-point edge, 62-57.
The Orange scored six straight points, capped by Jesse Edwards’ dunk, to go ahead 63-62, before Burton made 1-of-2 free throws to tie it with 52 seconds remaining. Sloppy play down the stretch by both teams sent the game to overtime.
–Field Level Media