SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)Elijah Hughes scored 19 points and matched his career high with nine assists, Buddy Boeheim added 15 points, and Syracuse beat Niagara 71-57 on Saturday night.
Syracuse (8-5) ended its nonconference slate on a three-game winning streak.
Niagara (2-9) has lost four straight under rookie coach Greg Paulus, a former Duke point guard.
Freshman guard Nick MacDonald had a season-high 11 points to lead Niagara, while Greg Kuakumensah had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Syracuse scored the first 10 points of the game and built a 16-point lead just over 6 minutes in on a three-point play by Hughes that gave the Orange a 20-4 lead.
The Orange went scoreless for nearly 5 minutes and Niagara closed to 26-16 on a follow by Kuakumensah with 7:19 left in the first half.
Robert Braswell then hit a pair of 3-pointers and Boeheim added another to boost the lead back to 15 as the Orange led 41-28 at the break.
Boeheim hit a pair of 3s to key a 10-4 spurt at the start of the second half and a jumper by Hughes boosted the lead to 49-30.
The Orange gave Niagara a chance to get back in it, going just over 8 minutes without a field goal. Hughes ended the drought with a pull-up jumper in the lane that gave Syracuse a 61-47 lead with 5:36 left.
Niagara entered the game with a rebound margin of minus-12.1 while Syracuse was at minus-2.2. The Orange won the battle on the glass 46-33, with Bourama Sidibe leading the way with 13 and 10 points. Marek Dolezaj had a career-high 12 rebounds. Hughes had nine rebounds, one off his career high.
Boeheim started Syracuse’s early surge with a 3-pointer just 18 seconds into the game and ended it it with another. Hughes followed with eight points in a 2-minute span to give the Orange a big early lead. Hughes, working more at point guard, had seven assists in the first half.
The 33-year-old Paulus was a two-sport star at Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, earning New York state Gatorade player of the year honors in basketball and football in 2005. In his lone season under Syracuse football coach Doug Marrone, Paulus set a school record for completion percentage (67.7) that still stands, going 193 of 285 in 2009. When no offers came to play at football at the next level, Paulus began his basketball coaching career at Navy in 2010. After stints at Ohio State, Louisville and George Washington, he landed on the Purple Eagles staff in May as assistant coach and recruiting coordinator and was promoted to head coach in early November after Patrick Beilein abruptly resigned for personal reasons.
Niagara: The Purple Eagles now head into Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference play and they’ll have to get some rebounding. They have a nice core of players in Raheem Solomon, Marcus Hammond, Kuakumensah, and leading scorer James Towns (15.2), who scored 10 points on 3-of-14 shooting.
Syracuse: The Orange head into Atlantic Coast Conference play and coach Jim Boeheim is still tinkering with his lineup. When the long-range game is clicking, Syracuse is at its best, but the team has no inside presence. Niagara outscored the Orange 32-24 in the paint. The Orange also had 16 turnovers after committing just four in the previous game.
Niagara hosts Fairfield next Friday night in is MAAC opener.
Syracuse hosts Notre Dame next Saturday afternoon as it resumes Atlantic Coast Conference play.
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