LOST IN THE MOMENT: Familiar poor shooting dooms Orange 61-56 in Final Four loss to Michigan

first_img Published on April 6, 2013 at 10:17 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @chris_iseman ATLANTA — Like he had done so often during Syracuse’s late-season struggles, Brandon Triche stood in front of his locker just minutes after a loss, trying to explain how the Orange’s offense disappeared.Except this time, it was in the Final Four. The same offense — and the same shooters — that had sent Syracuse on a surge through the NCAA Tournament became sporadic once again with a trip to the national championship on the line.While Triche spoke, his teammates scattered around the locker room sat in stunned silence. There was no future game to turn their attention to. There was no hope the offense could be corrected. The season was over.“The one thing that got us losing four or five games in a row and everybody losing faith,” Triche said, “is the reason why we lost the game today.”After the incredible turnaround that included a run to the Final Four, one that came after finishing the regular season 1-4, Syracuse’s season came to a crashing end on Saturday with a 61-56 loss to Michigan in the NCAA Tournament semifinals in front of a Georgia Dome crowd of 75,350 fans. The same problem that made a run to the Final Four seem like a pipedream crept back up once again, as the Orange struggled to hit the shots it needed.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textUltimately, it cost Syracuse its season and a trip to the national championship.The Orange shot 41.8 percent for the game, including a paltry 21.4 percent clip from the arc. Just two players — Triche and C.J. Fair — managed to score in double digits. James Southerland, Syracuse’s most reliable shooter, went 2-of-9 from the field and 1-of-5 from the perimeter. The same shots he swished during his record-breaking Big East tournament performance clanked off the rim.Michigan wasn’t any better. The Wolverines shot 39.6 percent from the field. But it was the outside shooting that helped push Michigan on to the national championship.“They made eight 3s and we made three,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “That’s the difference in the game when you really look at it.”Fittingly, Michigan’s first points of the game came when Tim Hardaway Jr. drilled a 3 from up top. Syracuse didn’t hit its first 3-pointer until the 12:43 mark of the first half when Fair knocked one down from the top of the key.The Orange finished the game with only three 3-pointers — one each from Fair, Southerland and Trevor Cooney, and Southerland’s didn’t come until there were only 41 seconds left in the game.What made the night even more frustrating for Syracuse was that two players who did the most damage from the arc for Michigan were mostly unknown bench players overshadowed by the Wolverines’ star-studded starting lineup.Caris LeVert and Michael Albrecht each hit two 3-pointers. LeVert hadn’t hit a 3 in the tournament, while Albrecht had three. Syracuse paid plenty of attention to Trey Burke, Glenn Robinson III and Hardaway. Nik Stauskas, who came into the game shooting 44.9 percent from the arc and was averaging 11.5 points per game, didn’t score a single point on Saturday.“They had players come off the bench and knock down shots,” SU point guard Michael Carter-Williams said. “I didn’t even know who they were, to be honest. … They played with a lot of heart.”Syracuse had players in its starting lineup who are capable of delivering daggers. Southerland had seven 3-pointers in Syracuse’s four previous tournament games. Triche and Carter-Williams had each hit four.On Saturday, they lost that rhythm from the arc. Reminiscent of those lackluster offensive performances during the regular season, they couldn’t jumpstart an offense that suddenly lost its confidence.“Even when we were coming back, our offense still wasn’t really clicking,” Triche said. “I remember at one point, it was 41 to 45, we had the ball three possessions and still didn’t get it there.”Syracuse made a late charge. It came to within one point. A trip to the championship was right there.The Orange had 15 seconds to tie the game. Both Triche and Carter-Williams were on the bench after they each fouled out. That left Cooney to run the point. He dribbled the ball up the court and drove the lane for a runner, but his shot clanked off the rim.Another critical miss for Syracuse.Michigan grabbed the rebound, leading to a fast-break dunk by Jordan Morgan that sealed the win for the Wolverines. Michigan fans erupted. Syracuse fans were stunned.After the game, the Orange’s players sat in the locker room with blank expressions on their faces. Carter-Williams stood in front of his locker with watery eyes, answering question after question about how Syracuse’s season could end like this.The answer wasn’t tough to find. The Orange’s offense had disappeared again.“That game is how our whole season was,” Triche said. “Especially in games we always lost.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Related Stories Gallery: Syracuse takes on Michigan in the Final Four in AtlantaCohen: Triche, Southerland leave Syracuse with mixed legaciesGallery: Louisville defeats Wichita State 72-68 to advance to championshipSubdued Marshall Street crowds require little police involvementSyracuse community reacts, reflects on SU’s fall to Michigan in the Final Fourlast_img

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