Nichols, Syracuse pull away late against CanisiusNov 26, 2006 - 2:53 AM BUFFALO, New York (Ticker) -- Demetris Nichols and Syracuse got a more difficult challenge than they expected.
Nichols scored 11 of his 20 points in the second half as the 14th-ranked Orange rallied for an 81-71 victory over Canisius.
Syracuse entered the contest with 43 consecutive wins against intrastate opponents, but that streak appeared in jeopardy early as the Golden Griffins sank a handful of 3-pointers in grabbing a big lead.
Junior forward Pawel Malesa hit consecutive shots from the arc to make it 23-8 with 11:44 remaining.
Still trailing, 39-38, at the half, the Orange (6-0) did not grab their first lead until Nichols was fouled on a 3-pointer. He made the ensuing free throw for a rare four-point play and a 42-41 edge with 18:13 to play.
Canisius (1-3) was able to pull back ahead at 47-42 on a layup by Darnell Wilson about four minutes later, but the Golden Griffins were unable to stop the speedy Josh Wright, who began to push the pace to set up easy baskets for Syracuse.
The 6-2 junior found Terrence Roberts for an alley-oop dunk and three-point play to close within 47-45 with 14:03 remaining. After a made basket by Canisius, Wright sprinted up the court to find Nichols wide open on the right wing for a 3-pointer and a 50-49 edge with 12:58 left.
Wright extended the lead to 57-54 with 9:39 to play after he beat everyone else down the court on a basket by the Griffins for a layup. The point guard ended up with 11 points and eight assists.
Eric Devendorf, who finished with 17 points, had three layups and three free throws within a span of two minutes to give Syracuse a 66-57 advantage with 7:13 left.
"They had a couple runs that we couldn't recover from, and that was the difference," Canisius coach Tom Parrotta said.
Freshman Paul Harris came off the bench to score 12 points and grab nine rebounds for the Orange in what amounted to a homecoming game. Harris led Niagara Falls High School to the state championship in 2005.
Chuck Harris hit six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 24 points for Canisius, which lost in front of the second-largest crowd in school history (14,823) despite shooting 39 percent (10-of-26) on 3-pointers.
Even without center Darryl Watkins for the second straight game, the Golden Griffins outrebounded the Orange, 54-30.
"We know we have to outwork everybody we play in order to win," Parrotta said. "Syracuse is always one of the best rebounding teams in the country so it's a testament to our guys sticking their nose in there and working hard."
The Golden Griffins had a crowd of 16,279 when they hosted Duke on December 7, 1991.
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