By: Jack Rose
Disappointing. The end to the Syracuse basketball season was, in a word, disappointing. After starting the season 25-0, a third round loss to an 11 seed is disappointing.
Ugly. The game against Dayton was, in another word, ugly. Less than 40% shooting for the Orange, including zero from deep, is ugly.
The Orange lost, 55-52, to Dayton in the Round of 32 Saturday night in a game they easily could have won. But again, Syracuse could have beaten NC State in the first round of the ACC Tournament. And they could have beaten Boston College, and Georgia Tech, at home during the regular season.
So, this season was, in a phrase, about missed opportunities. And the final game served as the perfect microcosm.
Neither team started well. The Flyers scored only 20 points in the first half to the Orange's 18, who turned the ball over plenty in the opening minutes, with more than five in the first five minutes of the game. Many of those turnovers were from usually steady point guard Tyler Ennis. The Orange had every opportunity early to take the lead, or even the game, but they just could not capitalize.
No one on campus is particularly happy. The slamming of walls and yelling of cuss words could be heard through the walls at the close of the game. We didn't expect this, and rightfully so. We had the best team in the country-unquestionably-after beating Duke on February 1st. Oh, how quickly things change.
Trevor Cooney started the season on fire, hitting everything from three, and even as recently as the game following Duke, scored 33 points. Tonight, however, he literally could not hit anything from three, going 0-4 and just 1-6 overall. He had open looks, too, but just couldn't put them down.
Ennis played well down the stretch, but missed 14 shots. The player of the game for the Orange, C.J. Fair, had a double-double but, again, missed 10 of 14 shots. Jerami Grant was almost non-existent, scoring only 4 points before fouling out in the last minute.
Syracuse had a chance to win, of course, as they always seem to. It looked like they might pull away after going on a run to take a three point lead with just inside 8 minutes to play, but the Flyers responded with a run of their own. The Orange then came back, cutting it to a three-point deficit with 25 seconds to go. But after a season filled with last second shots made by Ennis, he could not come through.
He took a questionable pull-up two with 14 seconds to go and missed, then took another questionable three at the buzzer, and missed again. Both shots looked good in the air, and seemed to hang there forever. The tension in the room I watched in was palpable, hoping for another incredible moment.
In the aftermath, it feels like a tease. The 25-0 start, the incredible finishes, the final shots from Ennis...
This season just was not to be. Now, as a student body, we wait. For next season, yes, but first, for announcements from Ennis and Grant, saying whether or not they will go return to school. We will be here next season, and hopefully, so will they.
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