Gonzaga beats Syracuse 76-57, handing Orange its second straight loss at Maui Invitational
HONOLULU (AP) — Nolan Hickman scored 12 of his team-high 19 points after halftime and Graham Ike and Anton Watson posted double-doubles to lead No. 11 Gonzaga to a 76-57 win over Syracuse in a losers bracket game at the Maui Invitational on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs (3-1) got 16 points and 14 rebounds from Ike, and 12 points and 13 rebounds from Watson. Ike, a 6-foot-9 redshirt junior forward, also came up with four steals. Ryan Nembhard added 11 points, seven assists and five rebounds.
Gonzaga, which led by as many as 23 points late in the game, outrebounded the Orange (3-2) 48-28, and held a 25-8 advantage in second-chance points.
"It was a really, really, really good win for us with such a quick turnaround and playing in a breakfast bracket early morning, so I really, really proud of our response. We came out with great energy, we came out with great effort and obviously great toughness as it showed with the rebounding differential," Bulldogs coach Mark Few said.
Syracuse got within 51-45 with 9:39 left in the game on a Maliq Brown two-handed dunk that was set-up by a Judah Mintz bounce pass that split a pair of defenders. But, the Bulldogs answered with a 15-5 run that was punctuated by a steal by Ike that led to a breakaway dunk by Ryan Nembhard, giving Gonzaga a 66-46 cushion with 4:17 to play.
The game featured a pair of coaches on opposite ends of their career; Few is in his 25th season at Gonzaga and is the winningest active coach in Division I, while Adrian Autry has three wins in his first season as Syracuse coach.
Judah Mantz had 22 points and JJ Starling 15 for Syracuse.
Gonzaga led at the half, 39-25.
"Again, kind of the same thing — rebound the basketball, playing better defense — that's the thing that we have to do better, it's glaring. I think we understand that and we just gotta keep working at it, get better. There's no moral victories here. We just have to get better at it and it's just plain and simple," Autry said.
Syracuse's collective growth and player development will continue to be a work in progress over the course of Autry's first season leading his alma mater. The Orange have four sophomores and one junior in their starting lineup and were tabbed 10th (out of 15) in the ACC preseason media poll.
Gonzaga, which has five players averaging double-digit scoring, rebounded from a 73-63 loss to No. 2 Purdue on Monday. Ike led the way in that game with 14 points.
Among the crowd of several thousand in attendance at Tuesday's morning session at the Stan Sheriff Center was a group of Lahaina residents who were affected by the wildfire that devastated the west Maui town on Aug. 8. The Lahaina residents were largely clad in red and adorned in 'Maui Strong' hats and shirts. Tournament organizers arranged a trip for the group to Oahu for the event. The Maui Invitational will return to Maui in 2024.
Syracuse: Will look to leave Hawaii on a winning note when it takes on Chaminade on Wednesday for seventh place.
Gonzaga: Will try for its second win in as many days when it faces UCLA in the fifth-place game Wednesday.