MBB : RETURNING TO FORM: Syracuse runs away from Kansas State in 2nd half to advance to Sweet 16

first_img Comments PITTSBURGH – With one minute left, the Syracuse section of fans rose to its feet for a standing ovation. Dion Waiters stood at half court and turned to the orange-clad crowd.He raised his right hand high above his head and extended his pointer finger to the sky.The message couldn’t be clearer. Syracuse, despite its critics, earned its No. 1 seed.‘It was a statement to everybody that had the underdogs,’ Waiters said. ‘I’m glad we came in and proved them wrong. … It’s a great feeling.’No. 1 SU (33-2) advanced to the Sweet 16 with a 75-59 win over No. 8 Kansas State (22-11) Saturday in Pittsburgh. The Orange took advantage of the Wildcats man-to-man defense and pounded the ball inside at every opportunity. That eventually created space on the perimeter, and Syracuse didn’t miss a 3-pointer in the second half as it pulled away.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSU will play No. 4 seed Wisconsin in Boston on Thursday. The Badgers defeated No. 5 Vanderbilt 60-57 on Saturday.After his signal to the crowd, Waiters dropped his hand and saluted the Orange fans. By the end of the game, the boos that had greeted Syracuse throughout its play at the Consol Energy Center were silenced. They were replaced by a ‘Let’s go Orange’ chant.It was SU’s fans who were ecstatic by the time the game ended. But right from the opening tip, it was the Orange’s players who were thrilled to see Kansas State’s man-to-man defense.‘We’ve been seeing a lot of zone,’ Scoop Jardine said. ‘We saw the man and our eyes lit up.’Three of Syracuse’s last four opponents played a zone defense, and the Orange’s offense sputtered.Saturday, SU attacked inside from its first possession when Brandon Triche hit a floater in the paint.The Orange fell behind by seven early, but Waiters and Kris Joseph carried Syracuse back in front. Their dribble penetration sparked a 21-3 run that put SU up by 11, and they finished with 19 of the team’s 25 first-half points.‘We’re a team who does well on man-to-man,’ Waiters said. ‘At the end of the day, we saw what they were giving us, and we took full advantage of it.’The Wildcats countered by dominating the boards. They outrebounded Syracuse 28-16 and pulled down 15 offensive rebounds before halftime. Forward Jordan Henriquez pulled down 11 rebounds in the first half alone and led KSU on a 12-2 run to pull within 25-24 at the break.And Kansas State’s first eight points in the second half came on three layups and a Henriquez tip-slam.But momentum swung permanently in SU’s favor when Henriquez fouled Joseph on a drive, picking up his third foul with 16 minutes left. The Orange held a 34-32 lead when the 6-foot-11 forward sat down, and its lead grew to seven by the time he returned 2:33 later.‘I felt like they were too small out there,’ James Southerland said, ‘and they didn’t have anyone to really guard us.’Henriquez’s return didn’t stop the Syracuse run or its ability to score inside. Freshman center Rakeem Christmas slipped free under the basket twice, and Jardine found him for finishes at the rim.The lead grew to 10, and the threat of SU’s dribble penetration started opening up space for its shooters. The Orange went 5-of-5 from 3-point range in the second half, all of them by Jardine and Southerland.‘James got in a rhythm, Scoop in the second half got in a rhythm,’ Joseph said. ‘That’s what we want to see. We don’t want to take contested shots. We want easy, open shots. That’s what we got.’Syracuse went up by 13 with nine minutes left when Southerland found space at the top of the key and knocked down a triple in rhythm. The junior buried another after Jardine drove into the paint and found him wide-open in the corner to put SU up 58-44 with seven minutes left.Kansas State never cut the lead to single digits, and the Orange added two exclamation points with uncontested dunks in the final minute.Before that, Waiters made sure to let the fans know that this Syracuse squad, regardless of its previous struggles, was still a top team.‘I feel as though we just have to just continue to work hard and build off this,’ Waiters said. ‘Going to the Sweet 16, we’re not done yet. It doesn’t stop here. We’re trying to get to New Orleans.’[email protected] Published on March 16, 2012 at 12:00 pmcenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

PNG secure spot in Olympic football play-off with fourth straight Pacific Games gold medal

first_imgIn what was a gold medal contest that will not live long in the memory, Kaipu capitalised on a costly error by New Caledonia goalkeeper Honorine Pouidja to fire home from close range in the 21st minute, which proved to be the game’s solitary goal.New Caledonia had nearly 70 minutes to fight their way back into the match but were unable to find an answer as they suffered a second consecutive final defeat to Papua New Guinea.The result for the hosts maintains their monopoly of the event at the Pacific Games as they have won every gold medal since the sport was introduced onto the programme at Suva in 2003.Their victory prompted joyous scenes at the final whistle in front of the best crowd the Sir Hubert Murray Stadium has seen at these Games, with desolation evident on the faces of the New Caledonian side after falling short once again.The game’s crucial moment came after 21 minutes when Pouidja could only parry a weak Papua New Guinea effort straight into the path of Kaipu, who made no mistake to give her side an early advantage.Chances were then few and far between as New Caledonia struggled to react to the setback of going behind, with the hosts content to sit back and soak up pressure before counter-attacking when their opponents ventured forward.That trend continued after the restart, with the 2011 silver medallists still struggling to fashion any real clear-cut opportunities, and in the end Papua New Guinea were able to hold out for a deserved win to add yet another gold to their country’s medal tally.Earlier on, Cook Islands ensured they finished their tournament on a high as they clinched their first-ever Pacific Games football medal with a comfortable 2-0 win over Samoa in the bronze medal match.Tepaeru Toka edged her side in front just before the break, with Maeve Carr netting the second just after the restart and despite a lack of experience at this level, they were able to cling on for a famous victory.“This is 100 times better than amazing,” Toka said.“It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”….PACNEWSlast_img read more