Syracuse beats Nova 87-73

February 2, 2008 8:05:41 PM PST
Syracuse never played like a team struggling with depth issues. Undermanned because of injuries, Paul Harris and Jonny Flynn gave the Orange the offensive punch they needed to take care of suddenly slumping Villanova.

Harris scored a career high 28 points and Flynn had 24 to lead Syracuse to an 87-73 win over Villanova on Saturday, the Wildcats' fourth straight loss.

"This was a Jonny Flynn, Paul Harris game," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "They were absolutely spectacular, as good as anybody I could remember in a long time."

The short-handed Orange (16-7, 6-4 Big East) need those types of performances to stay competitive in the conference. They're playing with basically six players which has forced Boeheim to shorten practices and hope on the sideline his players stay out of foul trouble.

"I don't have to worry too much about putting people in," he said. "Not too many decisions to make there. I can concentrate on figuring out plays to run and stuff like that."

Donte Greene had 17 points and Kristof Ongenaet added 12 for the Orange, who won their third straight.

Corey Fisher hit five 3-pointers and scored 21 points for Villanova (13-7, 3-6). The Wildcats, ranked in the Top 25 for a portion of the season, are on their longest losing streak since they lost five straight toward the end of the 2003-04 season.

Villanova's last four losses have all been by double digits, and the Wildcats will surely need a big comeback in the second half of the Big East season if they want to make the NCAA tournament for a fourth straight year.

"When we made shots, we played hard on defense," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "When we started missing shots, we just lost that toughness defensively."

The Wildcats also lost their second game in two Saturdays at the Wachovia Center, their off-campus arena where they were nearly invincible the last three years. This time, they were left to watch about 2,000 Orange fans wave, taunt and cheer in the waning moments.

Harris helped the Orange pull away late when he scored five straight points, including a three-point play, that put them head 75-63. Harris and Flynn each went 8-for-11 from the field; Harris was 12 of 16 from the free throw line.

The Wildcats had no more runs left after keep the score close earlier in the half.

"We're showing we can win on the road," Harris said.

Scottie Reynolds, who struggled with his shot all game, sank a jumper that pulled the Wildcats to 50-49.

Harris made two straight baskets and Ongenaet converted a three-point play that helped the Orange stretch their lead to double digits for the first time in the game.

Fisher hit a pair of 3s that sliced Syracuse's lead to 66-60. Ongenaet, though, buried a 3 at the shot clock buzzer. It was Ongenaet's second 3-pointer of the season.

"Kristof made the big shot of the game," Boeheim said.

Each time the Wildcats tried to rally in the second half, Syracuse was there with a hot streak of their own. The Orange shot 63 percent from the field and outrebounded Villanova 34-22.

The Wildcats reversed a trend of falling behind big early and grabbed an 11-point lead midway through the first half.

The Orange, who tried to keep pace by working the ball inside, turned to the long ball to take control the game. Greene hit a pair of 3s and Flynn sank one that sparked a 15-0 run and put the Orange ahead 39-31. They took a 44-39 lead into halftime.

The Wildcats trailed at the break for the sixth straight game.

"We're not getting any consistency anywhere that we can develop who we are. I was afraid that was possible," Wright said. "We're trying to just establish who we are, and that's probably what the season is going to be. Until we figure that out, we're going to struggle like this."

Scoop Jardine, a Philadelphia native, returned for the Orange after serving a suspension for violating university policy. He sat out two games and Boeheim said the issue was resolved.