Leaving Washington with a Capital "W"

The Orange have brightened up their play on both sides of the court in the postseason, landing themselves in the Final Four for the fourth time in Jim Boeheim's history.

Just a few weeks prior to the Elite Eight match-up between the Syracuse Orange and the Marquette Golden Eagles, Syracuse was exiting the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., after scoring less points than there were minutes in their game versus the Georgetown Hoyas (39 points in 40 minutes).

The Orange had lost four of five, playing their way out of first place and out of the top three entirely in the Big East Conference.

Then, came the Big East Tournament, an opportunity for Syracuse to get back on the right side of the win-loss column.

Advancing past the Seton Hall Pirates in their first game of the tournament, the Orange began a quest to right their regular season wrongs. They took down the Pittsburgh Panthers and Georgetown Hoyas in the next two rounds, respectively, after enduring losses to both in the regular season.

Syracuse put together a 6-1 record between the Big East and NCAA tournaments heading into an Elite Eight match with Marquette.

"After losing so many games in a row, we stayed positive, but, you know, you can't say we didn't lose confidence," said Orange senior guard Brandon Triche. "We were probably unsure of ourselves a little bit. One thing we did is we kept working hard, the coaching staff really got on us, and I think as leaders, you know, me, James [Southerland] and Mike [Carter-Williams] and C.J. [Fair], we really stepped up big. We made sure throughout the whole process of losing and all the ups and downs the whole season that we stayed positive...we made it a whole team effort to make sure we were successful and it started with the Big East Tournament."

The Golden Eagles scored first off of a three from junior guard Vander Blue who has come up big for the team, being an integral part of Marquette's advancement to the country's final eight spots.

Then at the 16:32 mark, the Orange took the lead for the first time off of a layup from sophomore guard Michael Carter-Williams.

Syracuse would never give up the lead from there, holding onto the advantage for more than 36 of the 40 allotted minutes.

Their largest lead of the first half came when freshman forward Jerami Grant went one of two at the charity stripe, giving the Orange 12 points of separation, 19-7, at 6:32.

Marquette would surge back to come within three, 21-18, after junior forward Davante Gardner connected on a jumper at 3:17.

But senior forward James Southerland would make the second of his two threes at 1:06 to give Syracuse a two possession lead heading into the locker room, 24-18.

In the second half, the Orange took a while to get going, failing to make a field goal in over five minutes.

Triche broke that drought with a layup at 14:24.

Despite the Golden Eagles fighting offensively to get going, keeping the "we're never out of the game" mentality that their head coach Buzz Williams has become known for, the Orange would rise back to a double-digit lead, 35-25, with 11:25 remaining, resulting from an old-fashioned three-point-play by Southerland at the rim.

With about 10 minutes to go in the contest, Carter-Williams put Syracuse ahead by double-figures once again, and they would keep that advantage through to the final buzzer.

Another regular season defeat was answered with yet another postseason victory, as Marquette got added to the list of teams that Syracuse has avenged losses against in their 2012-13 campaign.

"Marquette did a good job at home," Southerland offered. "They're a good team. They did a good job at home. They took the lead, we took it back. Home court advantage helped them fight back a lot and I feel like today we did a good job of taking control of the lead."

The 55-39 win over the Golden Eagles meant that the Orange ironically held their foe to the same points they scored in their loss to the Hoyas earlier in March.

"These guys have come a long ways from three weeks ago," said Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. "Today someone reminded me we were here for another game and it's been a great transformation in that period."

Both squads took at least 50 attempts from the field. Syracuse took 25 attempts in both halves, making one more shot from the field in the second half than the first, 10 to nine. Marquette decreased their output from the first half (7-for-26) to the second half (5-for-27).

"Our defense was tremendous in this tournament, has been tremendous in this tournament, and our offense has been just enough," Boeheim stated. "Both teams struggled. But I think it's because of the defense that both teams struggled."

Boeheim went on to say, "We gave Marquette 74 points four or five weeks ago. It was just a tremendous, tremendous defensive effort today."

Southerland led the Orange and all scorers with 16 on 6-for-13 shooting. Junior C.J. Fair followed with 13, making five of 11. Carter-Williams had 12, going 4-for-9.

Blue and Gardner stood atop all Golden Eagles with 14 apiece. Gardner was the best from the field for Marquette, making six of nine.

This time when the Orange exited the Verizon Center, they left with a carry-on for their flight home, the East Regional Championship trophy.

The team that once could not get anything to fall inside the net at the Verizon Center now laid that net over their new hardware.

Carter-Williams was named the most valuable player of the east regional, and the Syracuse Orange became the first name to be written into the Final Four that will be heading to Atlanta, Georgia.

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