Orange’s size, zone holds USF in check

USF fell victim to vintage Syracuse on Sunday.

The Orange, who have been known to frustrate opponents into difficult shots with Coach Jim Boeheim’s patented 2-3 zone defense, dared the Bulls to beat them from outside, but USF’s 3-of-18 shooting from 3-point range fell short in an 82-65 loss to Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.

“They have a lot of size,” said USF senior guard Chris Howard, who had seven points in 37 minutes. “They were aggressive. It definitely bothered us a bit.”

USF (10-5, 0-3) has lost three straight games, including a 74-73 heartbreaking loss to Notre Dame on Tuesday.

On Sunday, the Bulls got a stellar performance from guard Dominique Jones, who finished with 30 points. Jones, who was 3-for-6 from 3-point range, was the only USF player to hit a three.

“In the three years I’ve played against the zone, (Syracuse) has the most quickness and recovery as I’ve seen,” said USF coach Stan Heath. “You’ve got to make some shots, but you’ve got to give their defense credit.”

The Orange, whose only loss this year came Jan. 2 to Pittsburgh, were led by forward Wesley Johnson’s 19 points and 13 rebounds. Forward Rick Jackson had 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting and blocked four shots.

“That’s a well-balanced team with a lot of scoring punch,” Heath said.

Heath echoed Howard’s sentiments on Syracuse’s size being a factor, saying the Bulls couldn’t overcome the Orange’s frontcourt, which starts three players at 6-foot-7 or taller.

“They make you change your shot,” Heath said. “They make you shoot a little bit quicker than you want … a little higher than you want because of their length.”