No. 8 Syracuse tops California 92-81 in Maui
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) — Syracuse is used to winning at the Maui Invitational. One more victory for the Orange and it will be three titles in three trips.
Tyler Ennis scored 28 points and led two key second-half runs that carried No. 8 Syracuse past California 92-81 on Tuesday night in the tournament semifinals.
The Orange will play for the championship Wednesday against No. 18 Baylor, which edged Dayton 67-66. Syracuse won the Maui Invitational in 1990 and 1998.
“These two games out here have been great games, great for our team,” coach Jim Boeheim said.
Syracuse scored 51 points in the second half, shooting 55 percent and making five of seven 3-point attempts. Ennis had 17 points and Trevor Cooney scored 20 of his 23 after the break.
“Our guards were unbelievable today and I didn’t even know that until I looked at the stat sheet,” Boeheim said. “I knew they were pretty good, but they were better.”
Jerami Grant finished with 19 points while C.J. Fair had 14 points and seven rebounds.
Cooney said it’s different to shoot in a small gym.
“We play in a dome, it’s open, different backdrop and this is totally different for us,” Cooney said. “The gym is warm, the legs get going and you can get into a rhythm here and that’s what we have been doing.”
Ennis hit a layup during a nine-point run started by Grant’s putback dunk. The spurt lasted more than 2 minutes and gave Syracuse (6-0) its first double-digit lead with less than 8 minutes left.
“We probably lost our focus momentarily, and just kind of turned and got careless with the ball,” California coach Mike Montgomery said.
Justin Cobbs scored 18 points for the Golden Bears (5-1), who will play the Dayton-Baylor loser in the third-place game.
The game was close until midway through the second half, with 10 ties and 12 lead changes.
Cal tied it at 41 going into halftime when Tyrone Wallace hit two free throws after being fouled on a rebound by Ennis.
David Kravish then hit a layup to start the second half, but Ennis responded with his own layup 30 seconds later.
Cobbs gave Cal a four-point run to tie the game at 54. He made a nifty pass in traffic to set up Jordan Mathews for a dunk, then stole the ball from Cooney on the next possession and scampered for a dunk.
Grant responded with a jumper and Syracuse led the rest of the game.
Jabari Bird scored 17 points for Cal and Kravish had 15. The Bears played without Richard Solomon because of an abrasion on his right eye. Solomon started Cal’s previous five games.
“With Solomon being out it was just a different team,” Boeheim said. “I thought watching Cal yesterday that their team this year is much better than last year’s team that we played (in the NCAA tournament).”
Syracuse beat Cal last season to reach the Sweet Sixteen on the way to the Final Four.
Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia