Stith leads Old Dominion’s rally, upset of No. 25 Syracuse
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — B.J. Stith felt it necessary to apologize to his Old Dominion teammates at halftime Saturday after going scoreless and committing five turnovers against Syracuse.
“I made up my mind I couldn’t let my guys down,” Stith said. “I took full responsibility. No points, five turnovers. I said, ‘Look, I apologize for how I played in the first half. I’m going to step it up in the second half. Let’s do it.’ That’s exactly what we did and didn’t look back.”
No apologies were needed after the game.
Stith scored all of his 18 points in the second half on 4-of-7 shooting from the field and 10-of-11 at the foul line, and Old Dominion rallied to stun No. 25 Syracuse 68-62.
It was Old Dominion’s first win over a ranked team since beating VCU 73-67 in 2014 and the Monarchs’ first road win over a ranked team since defeating Georgetown in 2006.
“Number one, (Stith) was self-aware because he was right,” Old Dominion coach Jeff Jones said. “In the second half, he wasn’t trying to do his own thing. He stayed within the game plan. He got a couple of baskets and a couple of assists, found other guys and played stronger.”
Xavier Green had 15 points and Marquis Godwin added 11 for the Monarchs (8-3), who trailed by 13 points late in the first half and by 11 early in the second before rallying for their sixth straight victory.
“What this game showed is that we can play with, if not better, than any team in the country on any given day,” Stith said. “To come here into the (Carrier) Dome is a big-time win.”
Said Jones: “I don’t know what it will do for the program, but it’s a certainly good win for our basketball team. Syracuse is a good team. A top 25 team. Doing it in this Carrier Dome. This program is a storied program.”
After Elijah Hughes made a 3-pointer to put the Orange (7-3) ahead 39-28, Old Dominion went on a 13-2 run, capped by a 3-pointer from Goodwin that tied it at 41 with 10:19 remaining.
“We made a couple of adjustments (in the second half) but it was more about the players’ mentality, playing with toughness and being strong with the ball,” Jones said. “We stuck to the script a little bit better. We got the ball in some, it was hard to do, but we got it into the high post and were able to manufacture some baskets from there.”
Syracuse pulled back ahead and led 50-46, but a jumper by Godwin and a 3-pointer by Ahmad Carter put the Monarchs on top again. Syracuse went ahead 53-51 with 4:15 to go, but that was the Orange’s last lead of the game.
Three foul shots by Stith and five straight points by Green extended the Monarchs to a 59-53 margin with under three minutes to go. Six points by Stith down the stretch sealed the upset.
Tyus Battle led Syracuse with 23 points on just 5-of-14 shooting. Hughes had 15. Oshae Brissett had just nine, going 3 of 11 from the field.
Syracuse shot just 33 percent from the field for the game and 8 of 22 from 3-point range.
For the Orange, the offensive struggles were familiar. But something new was added against the Monarchs: missed opportunities at the foul line. Syracuse missed 12 of 34 free throws.
“We’re not making anything,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “We missed so many key shots. Playing at home, you have to make those shots. You can’t miss 12 free throws.”
Syracuse closed on a 12-3 run to take a 33-23 halftime lead. Battle, who scored 13 in the first 20 minutes, accounted for eight straight points during the run.
“We have to focus on every free throw,” Brissett said. “We’re a good free-throw shooting team, but we just haven’t been able to find it the last two games.”
Old Dominion: The Monarchs are flying high. Six straight wins and a huge comeback at the Carrier Dome give Old Dominion momentum heading into its matchup with in-state rival Richmond.
Syracuse: Frank Howard isn’t himself and Syracuse won’t go far if its point guard doesn’t contribute.
CENTER OF ATTENTION
Syracuse centers Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe accounted for zero points and seven rebounds.
GREEN WITH ENVY
ODU’s Green entered the game hitting 38 percent from 3-point range. He was 3-of-4 Saturday.
Syracuse will be desperate for a win over No. 14 Buffalo on Tuesday. A defeat would damage the Orange’s NCAA Tournament chances.
Old Dominion travels to Richmond Wednesday.
Syracuse hosts Buffalo on Tuesday.