SYRACUSE — Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a Division II basketball opponent, provided an early challenge in Syracuse’s first exhibition game of the 2016-17 season.
The Orange responded well after falling behind by double-digits, as last year’s NCAA Division I Final Four participant came back to post an 83-65 win Tuesday night before a Carrier Dome crowd of 6,630.
“For the first game this was as good as we would want to get. I think we learned a lot. We can show a lot of this tape and some mistakes we made on defense in the zone and some things we can do better on offense,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim at his post-game press conference.
IUP jumped out to a 7-2 lead going into the first media time-out, facing a Syracuse man-to-man defense instead of its fabled 2-3 zone scheme. That lead would grow as large as 15 points, with the Crimson Hawks up 20-5 with a little over 14 minutes left in the half.
The visitors used the long ball in their hot start, with 12 of those 20 points coming from beyond the 3-point arc.
The Orange began chipping away at the deficit, using a 12-0 run to go on top at the 5:12 mark of the first half on a Tyus Battle 3-pointer. Syracuse outscored the Hawks 22-5 to end the half and entered the intermission up 38-33.
Syracuse used the second half to extend its lead with impressive play from freshman guard Battle and sophomore forward Tyler Lydon. Battle was the game’s leading scorer with 16 points and added two rebounds, two steals and two assists. Lydon recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
“He was really the guy who got it going for us,” said Boeheim of prized recruit Battle, who was 4-for-5 shooting 3-pointers. “He’s a gamer. He’s going to play that way.”
Guard John Gillon came off the bench to provide a spark for the Orange, providing nine assists in the game. Tyler Roberson chipped in 14 points and Frank Howard finished with 10 points for the Orange.
Of the 10 players to play for the Orange, nine scored in the victory.
“This was a great game because they’re really a well-coached team,” said Boeheim, Indiana the defending PSAC West Division champions under head coach Joe Lombardi.
Four players scored in double figures for IUP, guard Anthony Glover with 15 points and forward Dante Lombardi with 14 including a trio of 3-pointers. Glover had nine points, two assists and two steals early to help the Crimson Hawks get out to a 22-10 lead less than eight minutes into the contest.
Syracuse had some early success with a full court press, which also helped speed the game up.
“ I thought we did a good job in terms of getting a couple of press opportunities in the first half. We got to work on our press. I think that was good for us,” said Boeheim. “Offensively, really at this stage of the year we’ve only played against man-to-man and our zone.We haven’t played against a match-up (zone) so we weren’t very effective against it. But at this stage of the year we’re not concerned about the match-up. We won’t see a match-up the entire year.”
Syracuse closes out the exhibition portion of the schedule this coming Tuesday against Le Moyne College in the Dome. Tip-off is 7 p.m.