Syracuse Men’s Basketball Squeaks Past Louisville Behind Girard’s 28
By Sam Corcoran | @The_SamCorcoran
With 2:34 left in Syracuse men’s basketball’s game against Louisville last night, Joe Girard stepped to the free throw line to shoot two shots to give the Orange a late lead in the second half.
The game began as a back-and-forth contest between the two sides. Early in the first half, Louisville went on a 13-0 run to take a nine-point lead. Immediately after, Syracuse went on a 12-0 run of its own to lead to retake the lead. A Judah Mintz layup moments later increased the Orange lead to six, but the offensive play slowed down after. The SU went 1-9 on field goals to finish the half before Girard made a layup with 40 seconds left.
The Orange shooting woes continued midway through the second half. After Girard hit a jumper to knot the game at 45, it took SU 6:06 to hit another shot. Lucking for the Orange, they only trailed the Cardinals by four thanks to Louisville’s own shooting woes.
Syracuse slowly crawled back from that deficit to take the lead with 3:39 left when Mintz threw down a dunk. After Louisville retook that lead on a Brandon Huntley-Hatfield jump shot, Louisville’s Mike James fouled Girard to send the senior to the line.
Girard hit both free throws, which accounted for two of his seven points in the final three minutes for a total of 28 points on the night. Those seven points put the Orange up three with 17 seconds remaining, and Syracuse never looked back from there and sealed a 70-69 victory over Louisville.
After the game, head coach Jim Boeheim said that Girard’s performance gave Syracuse a huge boost throughout the game.
“I’m just very thankful that Joe Girard didn’t want to lose the game,” Boeheim said.
In addition to Girard’s 28, Mintz provided so much-needed late-game heroics as well. The Orange took the lead for good when Mintz sinked two free throws with 49 seconds remaining. The freshman accounted for 16 of SU’s points tonight, which marks his 7th straight double-digit performance.
With the win, Syracuse earns its 10th win of the season and its 3rd in ACC play. Conference play continues on Saturday for SU’s biggest test yet – No. 11 Virginia. The Cavaliers have the ACC’s top scoring defense, with opponents averaging 59 points per game.
Tipoff from Charlottesville is set for Saturday, Jan. 7 at 5 p.m.