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Syracuse defeats Richmond 74-71, Moves on to Empire Classic Final Against St. John's

Joe Girard (11) fires a shot from downtown. The senior had a career-high 31 points in the win.

Judah Mintz rumbled down the court after Richmond missed a shot with less than ten seconds left in regulation. The guard reached the three point line with nearly two seconds left. The freshman had just enough time to get off a shot from deep, but instead went for a pass to Jesse Edwards who couldn’t get a shot up before time expired.

Tied at 63, the Orange would have to go to overtime for the first time this season. The period started with some back and forth action. Joe Girard III was fouled on a three with SU up one and hit just one free throw. This was followed immediately by a Richmond bucket to tie the game.

With the game knotted up, Syracuse would not look to Joe Girard, but rather its freshman. Forward Chris Bell curled off a screen and hit a mid-range jumper to give SU the lead. After yet another stop on defense, Guard Judah Mintz floated through the defense and banked home a jumper to extend the lead to four. The Orange’s next defensive stand saw many offensive rebounds for the Spiders but no scores, ensuring SU would come out in front.

The freshman pair’s performance was strong for the Orange. This was particularly important for Chris Bell, who was benched after eight minutes against Colgate. The forward had eleven points on eight shots from the field.

“We know he can shoot,” Boeheim said of Bell.

Mintz continued to run the offense and stuff the stat sheet with 16 points, four assists and three steals.

Judah Mintz (3) drives to the basket. Mintz scored two key buckets as SU outscored Richmond 11-8 in overtime.

It was Joe Girard who did the majority of the scoring for Syracuse; the guard had 31 points, a career high. Early on, the senior could not miss, with 9 points in the game's first six minutes, pushing the Orange up 16-5.

Richmond proved to be very resilient. After starting the game slow, the Spiders found their footing, out scoring the Orange 24-18 in the rest of the first half. Chris Mooney’s team would rely on the three all night, hitting 13 shots from downtown on better than 40 percent shooting. Richmond guard Jason Nelson was especially lethal, downing four of six attempts from deep to help end many SU runs.

It was the interior defense that made the biggest difference for Syracuse. The Orange had nine blocks as a team and Jesse Edwards had six himself.

“We got a lot of work to do, but we got the win,” Boeheim said.

It wasn’t a perfect win, but Syracuse is on its way to the Empire Classic final today at 9:30 p.m. against St. John's, who beat Temple 78-72 in the second semifinal. It's the first time the former Big East foes have met since 2016, when the Red Storm won by 33 in the Dome. Tune into McClurg Team Countdown to Tipoff at 9 before the final matchup.