SYRACUSE, N.Y. (SYRACUSE ATHLETICS) –
Syracuse (1-0) opened its 121st campaign with a victory over Lehigh (0-1), 90-72, on Monday night inside the JMA Wireless Dome. The win marked the 18th time in the last 19 tries that the Orange have recorded a victory in its season starter.
The triumph came in the first outing of Hall of Fame Coach Jim Boeheim’s 47th year at the helm of his alma mater. The winningest active coach in the Division I ranks, Boeheim saw his record in openers improve to 42-5.
Syracuse saw scoring contributions from 11 Orange performers. Senior center Jesse Edwards produced a double-double, finishing the night with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Senior guard Joseph Girard III led the home team with 19 points and freshman guard Judah Mintz tallied 16 in his collegiate debut. Senior guard Symir Torrence also had a career-high, 10-point night, off the bench.
With 8:54 left in the first half, Syracuse surged past the visitors with a 10-0 run. The stretch gave the Orange squad a 29-19 advantage with 6:06 left to go. Mintz jump-started the run with back-to-back buckets, which were followed by six consecutive makes (two each) at the line from Edwards, Mintz, and Symir Torrence.
“Joe (Girard III) and Jesse (Edwards) did what they had to do,” said Boeheim in his postgame press conference. “They have to be the two guys we depend on and they were that tonight.”
“We have a long way to go. We have an awful lot of work to do.”
Lehigh netted the first bucket of the night, as Dominic Parolin made a jumper to put the visitors up, 2-0, within the first 30 seconds of action. Syracuse answered immediately with a layup from Edwards to even things up, 2-2. The Mountain Hawks lead expanded to as a high a five points in the early going, but the Orange began to chip away with 16:16 left to play before the break. Girard nailed a 3-pointer to put the Syracuse within two of the leading Mountain Hawks, 9-7.
Following a scoreless two minutes, Edwards made a dunk to tie things up, 9-9, with 14:27 left to play. Syracuse knotted things up for a fourth time in the first frame with 11:14 remaining, when Mintz made it a 17-all game with a two pointer. From that point on, SU pulled away and expanded its lead in the half to as high as 18 points.
Syracuse went into the break leading, 44-26.
SU shot an impressive 77.4% (24-for-31) mark at the charity stripe. The guard trio of Girard (5-for-5), Mintz (4-for-4), and Torrence (3-for-3) combined to make all 12 attempts. Edwards matched his previous career high at the foul line by recording eight total makes (8-for-10).
With the victory over Lehigh, Syracuse extends its advantage in the all-time series to 5-0.
Ajak scored a career-high three points in tonight’s matchup.
In their debut for the Orange, the freshman pair of Mintz and Bell saw their first career starts. Maliq Brown, Justin Taylor, Quadir Copeland, Mounir Hima, and Peter Carey all saw their first appearances for Syracuse as well.
Syracuse led Lehigh in rebounds (39-26), points in the paint (42-30), and bench points (30-24).
Syracuse will be back in action on Tuesday, Nov. 15, when the Orange face Colgate inside the JMA Wireless Dome. Tipoff is set for 7:00 p.m.