Gbinije, Cooney lead Orange past Bonnies

Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney led the Orange past the Bonnies, 79-66.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Just like the season-opener against Lehigh, it was a tale of two halves. However, this time, in reverse order. 

St. Bonaventure, who entered Tuesday's game against the Orange with a 1-0 record, came out firing on all cylinders. 

After Malachi Richardson got the Orange going with an early 3-pointer for the second-straight game, Idris Taqqee answered with his own 3. Tyler Roberson answered Taqqee's 3-pointer with a layup, and Derrick Woods answered with a dunk. That trend lasted for a few more minutes before St. Bonaventure held up their end. Syracuse did not.

Led by forward Dion Wright, who had 7 points at halftime, St. Bonaventure hit six first half 3-pointers en route to a 35-29 halftime lead. 

"The first half we wanted them to shoot, but we didn't defend the 3-point line," coach Boeheim said after the game. "As much as that hurt, we couldn't get our offense going at all." 

St. Bonaventure, with 7:13 to go in the first half, was out-rebounding the Orange 17-4. At the time, coach Boeheim had Frank Howard, Trevor Cooney, Michael Gbinije, Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon on the floor, the smallest lineup of the season. The Bonnies had nine offensive rebounds in the first half, which led to 9 second-chance points. 

"We always make it a point to crash the boards," Cooney said after the game. "Not only when we have a smaller lineup in the game, but even with Roberson and Coleman in there. It's our responsibility to help out on the glass."

Tyler Roberson picked up his second foul with 15:21 remaining in the first half, which is when Tyler Lydon entered the game. Lydon played the rest of the first half, scoring 3 points and grabbing 2 rebounds. His second half performance was the one to remember.

St. Bonaventure took advantage of sloppy basketball in the first half. Their largest lead, 11 points, came with 7:11 to go in the first half. The Bonnies continued to play well, and Syracuse was repeating their second half performance against Lehigh. 


Kaleb Joseph played four minutes in the first half. "Kaleb didn't deserve to be out there," Boeheim said postgame. "A lot of people think it's all about offense. A lot of the time it's defense. If you don't play defense, you don't deserve to play." 

Trevor Cooney converted a layup with four seconds left in the first half.  St. Bonaventure took a 35-29 lead into the break.

Unlike Lehigh, the Orange played their best basketball in the second half. After a dreadful first half offensively, Syracuse came out with a more aggressive attitude and it showed. 

Michael Gbinije, who had a game-high 23 points, got to the basket early and often in the second half, "I tried to be more aggressive in the second half," Gbinije said. 

"He's been told that enough," Boeheim said when asked if he told Gbinije to be more aggressive. "I think he was more aggressive, he got to the basket and made a couple shots, and that helps."

Tyler Roberson, who played much better than his opening-night performance on Friday, finished with 6 points and 12 rebounds in 29 minutes. He fouled out with 4:26 left. "He's got to be better," the 71-year-old head coach said of Roberson. "He knocked it away when Malachi had rebounds twice. He can't play like this. He's got to be more active, he has to finish better, you know? I think with him and Dajuan, they have to get better." 

Coleman, who struggled again tonight, played a disappointing 14 minutes. He finished the game with four points and four rebounds. 

With 9:03 remaining in the game, freshman Tyler Lydon took, and made, the biggest shot of his young career. Lydon drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key, tying the game at 54. "I'll do whatever it takes to help the team win," Lydon said after the game. "I knew the score, but, I flashed up top and felt confident in my shot today."

On the next play, Trevor Cooney converted a 3-point play to give the Orange a 57-54 lead. SU didn't look back from there. 

After Cooney's acrobatic 3-point play, the Carrier Dome crowd was alive and St. Bonaventure began to struggle. 

Malachi Richardson added a three of his own, extending Syracuse's lead to six with 6:07 remaining.

Moments later, another Tyler Lydon 3-pointer set the Dome off. "I just felt like they gave me a little too much space," he said. "I felt comfortable, so I let it fly."

Syracuse shot 69% from the free throw line, something that needs improving. Tyler Lydon, however, went 5-for-5, four of those coming within the final 7:12. 

"I thought this was a very, very good comeback. They had control for a long time," Boeheim said. "We really played well down the stretch. The defense really picked it up."

Lydon and Richardson combined for 28 points, while Cooney and Gbinije combined for 41, all thanks to big-time second halves.

The Orange improved to 2-0 on the young season. They'll return to the court this Saturday, November 21st against Elon (1-1) at the Carrier Dome. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET. 

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