for this game

Syracuse shuts down Marquette

Jan 8, 2007 - 6:29 AM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- With its offense struggling, Syracuse turned to its defense to pick up its first conference win.

Eric Devendorf scored a season-high 20 points and the Orange shut down No. 21 Marquette over the final four minutes to post a 70-58 victory in a Big East Conference matchup.

With both teams having lost their league opener and neither lighting it up offensively, Syracuse (12-4, 1-1 Big East) closed the game with a 15-3 run, holding Marquette to a single free throw in 3:36 to break it open.

Neither team shot well, each struggled at the free-throw line and both combined for 43 turnovers. A thing of beauty the game was not.

"Both teams played hard," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "The turnovers were the result of a good defensive effort by both teams. Both teams struggled shooting, but we also got some decent looks. We kept trying to take the ball to the basket and that's what you need to do."

Ironically, the Orange shut the door by hitting their final eight free throws in the final 52 seconds. Prior to that, Syracuse was wretched at the stripe, going 13-for-27 and missing all six attempts in the first half.

A free throw by Devendorf with 3:11 to play put Syracuse ahead to stay, 56-55, and Demetris Nichols nailed a 3-pointer for a four-point lead with 2:32 left.

The Orange steadily pulled away, building the lead to 66-56 before Marquette's Dominic James hit a jumper with 29 seconds to play.

"You have to win your first game in the conference to get your first win," Boeheim said. "Every game counts just as much - there is not one more important than another. You have to get them at home and away. Every game is tough. There are some teams that play a little better than what you thought and there are some teams that are up and down."

Nichols scored 17 points for Syracuse, which won despite shooting 43 percent (23-of-53) and hitting just 3-of-14 shots from the arc in only their second true road game of the season.

Marquette (13-4, 0-2) was led by guards Jerel McNeal and Wesley Matthews with 16 and 14 points, respectively.

Leading scorer Dominic James, last season's Big East Freshman of the Year, was held to six points on 3-of-12 shooting.

"You can't win games if you don't make enough shots and we didn't do a very good job of that at all," Marquette coach Tom Crean said. "There is no excuse for our free-throw shooting (6-of-15). Some of these missed shots and missed free throws have got to start to hurt more than they have."

The Golden Eagles, who lost at Providence in the conference opener, shot just 38 percent (24-of-63) and were a hideous 4-of-21 from 3-point range.

"You can't go 4-for-21 from the three and feel good about the shot selection," Crean said. "But we have to make them, it's not like we can stop shooting them. I would like them to get the ball in the basket by getting to the rim."