Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim avoided the first five-game losing streak of his 42-year career as guards Frank Howard and Tyus Battle keyed a late second-half spurt that lifted the Orange to a 59-45 victory over the Pittsburgh Panthers Tuesday night in an Atlantic Coast Conference game before 21,259 fans at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.
With the Orange leading 37-35 midway through the second half, Howard drove for a layup, Battle sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key, and Howard completed a 3-point play to give Syracuse a 45-35 cushion. Howard’s two free throws and Battle’s driving layup extended the Orange lead to 51-37 with 2 ½ minutes remaining.
Syracuse (13-6, 2-4 in the ACC) had not lost five consecutive games since the 1968-69 season. Pittsburgh (8-11, 0-6) is the only ACC team without a league win and all six losses have been by double-digits.
Howard led the Orange with 18 points with seven rebounds and four assists, while Battle added 15 points and Oshae Brissett chipped in with 10. Parker Stewart, who was averaging 7.4 points per game, was the only Panther to score in double figures as he finished with a career-high 23 points on 7-for-13 shooting from beyond the arc.
Pittsburgh point guard Marcus Carr, who leads the Panthers in assists and 3-point shooting, played only 19 minutes because of foul trouble. He finished with 2 points (nine below his average) and four assists with three turnovers.
Brissett’s 3-pointer from the corner gave the Orange a 36-29 advantage, but Stewart responded with his fifth trey of the game and Jared Wilson-Frame later converted a 3-point play to pull the Panthers within two, 37-35, before Howard and Battle took over.
Battle, who scored a career-high 37 points in Saturday’s double-overtime loss at Florida State, didn’t score until the final two minutes of the first half. Battle’s off-balance layup and his jump-stop basket with four seconds left in the half keyed a late 6-0 run that gave the Orange a 27-22 lead at the break.
Stewart, who shot 4-for-7 from 3-point range in the first half, and Kene Chukwuka drilled 3-pointers in an 8-0 spurt that gave the Panthers their only lead of the first half, 22-19. Pittsburgh shot 33.3 percent and committed 10 turnovers in the first half but stayed close because it made five 3-pointers and outrebounded Syracuse 16-13.
Pittsburgh played its second game since the team announced that senior forward Ryan Luther would miss the rest of the season because of a foot injury. Luther, one of only two players on Pitt’s roster who played for the Panthers last season, was one of four ACC players with a double-double average (12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game).
—Field Level Media