With Syracuse’s perfect start perhaps swaying in the balance, Dion Waiters vaulted in front of Darius Johnson-Odom, determined to preserve it for at least one more game.Johnson-Odom rose for a 3-pointer with just more than four minutes left, making an effort to carry on a Marquette comeback from what once was a 23-point deficit. But Waiters swatted the crucial shot away with his right hand, taking the ball the other way for a layup.The play was a five-point swing. The Golden Eagles’ leading scorer tried to cut SU’s once-insurmountable lead to just one. Waiters pushed it to six.‘If you lose a lead, especially at home, it’s easy to start worrying and thinking about what’s happening,’ SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. ‘And instead I thought — obviously Dion made a huge block, finished it at the other end.’Waiters came up with the big play and some of his teammates contributed in the waning minutes as well, as No. 1 Syracuse (17-0, 4-0 Big East) hung on to defeat No. 20 Marquette (12-4, 1-2) 73-66 in front of a season-high crowd of 25,412 in the Carrier Dome on Saturday. Syracuse played a remarkably crisp first half defensively, holding the Golden Eagles without a field goal for a stretch of 11:13 as the Orange went on a 23-1 run. Boeheim even said it was the best his defense has been all year.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textYet Marquette stormed back. The Golden Eagles never led, but cut SU’s lead to as little as two, leading to some tense moments down the stretch as the Orange scrambled to unearth its first-half dominance. ‘We just came out lackadaisical I guess and not really playing defense,’ Waiters said of the second half. ‘And it hurt us, turned into a ballgame.’The near-collapse came after Syracuse ran laps around Marquette in the first half. In SU’s first game against a ranked Big East team this season, it appeared to be no sweat at all in the first 20 minutes.Marquette forward Davante Gardner bodied Baye Keita in the paint to score a bucket, pulling the Golden Eagles within 12-11 with 13:31 left in the first half. But that would be the last shot to fall for Marquette for more than one-quarter of the game.Vander Blue’s 3 from the right wing with 2:18 to go was Marquette’s first field goal since Gardner’s bucket. By then, SU’s lead had ballooned to 35-15.‘We were playing unbelievable defense in the first half,’ Waiters said.Fab Melo took four charges in the first half — three of them while battling foul trouble. SU’s offense struggled to ignite, but eventually, Brandon Triche and Kris Joseph buried the Golden Eagles with 3-pointers. Joseph led SU with 17 for the game and Triche added 16.With the Orange leading 23-12, Triche missed his own shot, but muscled inside to grab the rebound on the baseline. He found Waiters, who found Joseph — who buried a 3 from the top of the key, prompting a Marquette timeout. Less than two minutes later, a Triche triple boosted the lead to 31-12.But SU’s momentum was sapped soon after coming out of the locker room for the second half, and suddenly, the Orange couldn’t do much offensively or defensively.‘The way they were playing, they weren’t as active, I think, first half,’ Triche said. ‘In the second half they were moving, getting to spots, getting there a little faster. I think they were much easier to guard in the first half.’With three fouls, and not in perfect position, Melo didn’t go hard after Marquette guard Junior Cadougan in the lane, and he made a layup to cut the score to 42-32 less than five minutes into the second half.Marquette’s defensive pressure ramped up as well. The Golden Eagles forced nine second-half turnovers while giving the ball up just four times.‘They drove and we didn’t get in front of them,’ Boeheim said. ‘And part of it’s what they did well and part of it’s what we didn’t do well.’The lead never grew larger than nine for the final 11:33. Syracuse lost its explosiveness on offense and tenacity on defense.Marquette began to hit clutch shots. Blue found Cadougan on the right wing for a 3 to bring the Golden Eagles within 51-48 — and there was still 9:17 left to be played. Boeheim called a timeout, and Marquette’s players celebrated the surge.With SU regaining distance, now up 57-49, Jae Crowder buried a 3 from the left wing, putting a finger to his lips and shushing the crowd as he stared down the Orange bench.And Johnson-Odom had an opportunity to quiet the Carrier Dome again. He could have pulled Marquette within 61-60, bringing the game as close as it had been since it was scoreless.But Waiters made what SU guard Scoop Jardine deemed the play of the game. He kept the Orange perfect after a second half that was far from it.‘When the game got down to the line we made a couple plays,’ Boeheim said, ‘and I think that’s a great thing.’firstname.lastname@example.org Published on January 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: email@example.com | @mark_cooperjr Comments Facebook Twitter Google+
A sloppy effort led to a disastrous finish for the USC Trojans, whose Pac-12 title hopes took a serious hit in a 24-21 road loss to the Utah Utes. Just 10 seconds remained on the clock when quarterback Travis Wilson found a wide open Kaelin Clay for a go ahead one-yard touchdown that gave the No. 19 Utes (6-1, 3-1 Pac-12) yet another signature win.The No. 20 Trojans (5-3, 4-2) took a 21-17 lead with 10:18 remaining in the final quarter on a four-yard touchdown pass from redshirt junior quarterback Cody Kessler to sophomore wideout Darreus Rogers. USC reclaimed possession with just over seven minutes to play, but could not convert a fourth and short opportunity at the Utah 27-yard line with 2:08 remaining. That was all the time Wilson and the Utes needed for a game-winning drive.USC head coach Steve Sarkisian managed to find a few positives in his team’s effort, but was ultimately disappointed.“Utah played a hard fought game,” Sarkisian said. “Our guys played hard but we didn’t get it done.”A wild opening opening quarter got off to a less-than-thrilling start for the Trojans. On just the second offensive play of the game, Utah defensive back Davion Orphey scooped up a backward lateral intended for Rogers and took it 65 yards for a touchdown. Orphey’s heads-up play came as most of the USC offense returned to the huddle, figuring the whistle had blown.The Trojans would respond quickly, however, in the form of a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a 10-yard strike to freshman wide receiver JuJu Smith. Kessler, who came out of the game for a short time after a hard hit, was a perfect 5-for-5 on the series.The Utes took the lead once again midway through the second quarter, using good field position to set up a 24-yard field goal from All-American kicker Andy Phillips. Unfortunately for Utah, the advantage was short lived. Freshman cornerback/wide receiver Adoree’ Jackson took the ensuing kickoff 105 yards for a score, giving the Trojans a 14-10 lead. The touchdown marked the second of Jackson’s career — but the youngster was not done yet.Midway through the third quarter, Utah’s Clay returned a punt 51 yards to the USC 16-yard line. Just as it looked like the Utes would take their second lead of the night, however, Jackson stripped wide receiver Tim Patrick near the Trojans’ one yard line. Because Patrick was incorrectly ruled down on the play, Jackson was denied a chance at his first career defensive touchdown and USC took the ball at its own 20.The poor call came back to hurt the Trojans. Almost immediately, linebacker Jason Fanaika intercepted a poor throw from Kessler at the USC 38, leading to a 25-yard touchdown run from Utes’ running back Davontae Booker. To their credit, the Trojans bounced back with the 12-play, 73-yard drive that led to Rogers’ third touchdown of the season. But it would not be enough.The USC offense was rendered completely ineffective for large portions of the contest, including a stretch that consisted of a fumble, five punts and an interception in seven consecutive drives. Kessler, who finished the game 24-32 for 264 yards and two touchdowns, was the unit’s lone bright spot, while the Utah defense held redshirt junior running back Javorius “Buck” Allen to just 3.7 yards per carry. Smith tied for a career high with six receptions.Even through all the sloppiness and questionable play-calling, USC still had the game within its grasp in the final minutes. Sophomore linebacker Su’a Cravens, who spearheaded a gutsy defensive effort with two sacks, summed up the team’s feelings after the game.“I’ve been saying it for a couple weeks now, we need to know how to finish.” Cravens said.The Trojans will aim to pick themselves up off the mat for the third time this season next Saturday on the road once again, this time against the Washington State Cougars.“We’ll get back up,” Sarkisian said. “We’ll get back on the horse for next Saturday.”
The baseball team may not have qualified for the College World Series, but the Trojans ended their season in style with a commanding 31-9 win over Arizona State on the road on Sunday.The win gave the Men of Troy a series win over the Sun Devils to wrap up their 2016 campaign, finishing at .500 (28-28) overall and 15-15 in conference play.Against ASU starter Eli Lingos on Sunday, USC sprayed hits left, right and center — 30 in total, tied for second most in a game in program history. The 31 runs was also the second-highest single game run total in program history, with the record set in a 1959 game against Occidental when the Trojans scored 35 runs.The Trojans put runs on the board in all but two innings, with 13 of 14 batters reaching base at least once. They scored a season-high nine runs in the fourth inning and also put up four or more runs in the first, second and eighth innings.Redshirt sophomore Frankie Rios recorded six RBIs and sophomore Angelo Armenta knocked in five runs, each setting career highs. Rios and senior Timmy Robinson each tallied four hits in the rout.The win gave the Trojans their first series win at Arizona State since 2004. It followed a 6-2 win on Saturday behind sophomore pitcher Mitch Hart, who allowed two runs on three hits in six innings. Freshman Lars Nootbaar hit his first home run of the year that plated the eventual winning run with a 2-run blast in the fifth inning to put the Trojans ahead 3-2. Three runs in the eighth inning — two of which scored on a triple by junior catcher Jeremy Martinez — gave the Trojans even more separation.USC dropped the first game of the series on Friday. The Men of Troy had an opportunity to grab the win, but, down by a run, could not score in the ninth despite loading the bases with one out, and the 3-2 deficit held as the final tally.The Trojans wrap up a season in which they failed to live up to heightened expectations after a deep run in the NCAA Tournament last year, their first appearance in the postseason since 2005.Senior outfielder David Oppenheim was a bright spot for the Trojans this year, leading not only the team, but also the Pac-12 in batting average. Oppenheim hit .387 with 25 RBIs. Oppenheim complemented that with four home runs, one triple and nine doubles.Oppenheim also led the conference in on-base percentage, getting on-base exactly half of the time.Just behind Oppenheim with the third-best batting average in the conference was Martinez who hit .376. Martinez also batted in 42 RBIs. He had six home runs, two triples and 18 doubles. Martinez was also third in the conference in slugging percentage posting a .563.USC also had a strong team showing of conference leaders in RBIs with three players in the top 10. Robinson is fourth in the conference with 46. He is followed by senior infielder AJ Ramirez who has 44 and Martinez is just behind tied for the eighth spot in the Pac-12.