Syracuse caps off regular season with win over Wake Forest
With the celebration of its 2003 national title team, the jersey retirement of Gerry McNamara and Hakim Warrick and Senior Day, there was a lot to commemorate for Syracuse men’s basketball. Things got even sweeter after SU (17-14, 10-10 ACC) defeated Wake Forest (18-13, 10-10 ACC) 72-63 to snap a four-game skid.
It had been a rough stretch for the Orange, especially on the defensive end. In its previous two contests, Jim Boeheim’s squad had given up the most points it had all season (99 to Pitt, 96 to Georgia Tech). Last time out for the ‘Cuse, it allowed 53 points in the first half to the ACC’s worst scoring offense.
While the Demon Deacons trailed by 10 at the break, they started the second period on a 9-2 run. Wake closed the deficit to two and stayed within reach until about midway through the final frame. Syracuse then went on an 8-0 surge, powered entirely by center Jesse Edwards.
In what was likely his last contest on the Hill, the senior exploded for 27 points, 20 rebounds and a career-high five steals. The Netherlands native is the first SU player to put up a 20-20 statline in regulation since Derrick Coleman in 1990. Edwards is set to finish the season ranked top-20 in the ACC in scoring, second in rebounds and first in blocks.
“We had no answer for [Jesse] Edwards around the basket and on the offensive glass,” Wake Forest head coach Steve Forbes said. “He dominated the game around the basket.”
LISTEN: SU's Jesse Edwards finished at the rim and brought the crowd to its feet. @JohnDales_ had the call for the center's fifth bucket of the half.— WAER Sports (@WAERSports) March 4, 2023
🎙️@waer883, https://t.co/BG0Q3sGq3P pic.twitter.com/LmBg5yBFak
The big man didn’t have to do all the work by himself. Guard Judah Mintz had 17 points to wrapping up his regular season with 15 or more in 11 straight games. Meanwhile, Joe Girard III amassed 16 points. Although the Orange made a season-low two three-pointers, they converted 55% of their buckets in the paint.
“With [Gerry McNamara] and Hakim [Warrick] getting into the rafters, it was great to get a win for those guys,” Girard explained. “It just made the day a lot more happy and sends us off with some good momentum into the ACC Tournament.”
On the Wake Forest side, the conference’s top scorer, Tyree Appleby, notched 21 and added eight assists. Along with guard Daivien Williamson’s 11 points, the duo were the only members of their team to reach double-digits. The Demon Deacons, who were third in the ACC in scoring, tallied their lowest point total in three months. Wake shot just 25% from beyond the arc, its second-worst performance of the year. Plus, Steve Forbes’ crew had 16 turnovers, much in part to SU’s season-high 13 takeaways.
After it allowed 90+ points in three straight contests, the ‘Cuse warranted its fewest amount in 11 games. Syracuse took down Wake for the 11th time ever and maintained its perfect 6-0 record against the Deacs at home. Next up is the conference tourney, where the Orange are the eight-seed. SU plays the nine-seed Wake Forest in Greensboro, North Carolina at 12 p.m. on Wednesday. WAER’s coverage begins at 11:30 a.m. with McClurg Team Countdown to Tipoff.