Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim lamented his star player’s shot selection on the critical play of the game, and his players lamented their rotten shooting touch Saturday night.
The Orange went 0 for 10 from three-point range in losing to Dayton, 55-53, in the third round of the NCAA Tournament at First Niagara Center.
Syracuse shot just 38.9 percent from the field for the game and produced its second-lowest scoring total of the season.
“Sooner or later you gotta make a shot out there,” Boeheim said. “I thought we did an admirable job fighting to hang in there while not making anything.
“Particularly in the second half, I thought we were getting the shots you’ve got to get. The only thing we could make was a layup. It’s not easy to get layups against a good defensive team.”
Syracuse got a game-high 19 points from freshman point guard Tyler Ennis, and 17 of those came in the second half. Ennis scored his team’s last 11 points.
But with seven seconds left and Syracuse trailing, 54-53, Ennis pulled up for a relatively open 16-foot jump shot near the free-throw line. It missed, and Dayton added a free throw. Ennis missed a 24-footer at the buzzer.
Boeheim didn’t agree with Ennis’ decision with 7 seconds left.
“We settled for a jump shot,” the coach said. “If you’re shooting the ball, that’s OK. But after 30 minutes if you’ve figured out you’re not making jump shots, I think we needed to keep driving the ball even though it’s hard to do.”
“We took two or three jump shots when we had the lead,” Boeheim said. “You’ve got to keep driving it at that stage. With 13 seconds to go we wanted to get it to Tyler and drive the ball. He’d just driven the ball for three baskets, and I don’t know why he settled for the jump shot. There was plenty of time. He had space. I’m not sure why.”
Said Ennis: “I think everybody on the team would take that shot.”
Ennis was not to blame for the loss.
Syracuse senior C.J. Fair, averaging a team-high 16.6 points, managed 14 against smaller defenders and shot just 4 of 14 from the floor.
Sophomore guard Trevor Cooney, who led the Atlantic Coast Conference in three-pointers made, scored just two points and was 1 of 6 from the field. He was benched for most of the second half.
Sophomore forward Jerami Grant, who’s expected to enter the NBA draft, managed just four points.