MAUI, HAWAII - Freshman guard Tyler Ennis netted a career-high 28 points and No. 8/7 Syracuse (6-0) pulled away from California (5-1) midway through the second half to win 91-82 in the semifinals of the EA Sports Maui Invitational on Tuesday, Nov. 26.
Syracuse improves to 8-0 all-time in the Maui Invitational and awaits the winner of No. 18/17 Baylor and Dayton in the championship game on Wednesday, Nov. 27 at 10 p.m.
Holding onto a slim 58-57 margin with 11:07 to go, the Orange went on a 13-2 run to extend the lead to 71-59 to put the game away. At 62-59 sophomore Jerami Grant's put back slam sparked nine unanswered points. Redshirt sophomore Trevor Cooney followed with a three and Ennis stole the ensuing inbound pass and laid it in. Syracuse's margin bounced between seven and 13 for the remainder of the game.
Ennis, one of four players in double-figures, scored 17 of his game-high 28 in the second half and added four steals, four rebounds and three assists. The 28 points is tied for the third most by an Orange freshman in a single-game. Carmelo Anthony scored 33 points and Dwayne "Pearl" Washington had 30 in a game. Jonny Flynn scored 28 on two occasions. Ennis also was a perfect 8-of-8 from the free throw line and is 18-of-19 from the charity stripe in SU's last two games.
Redshirt sophomore Trevor Cooney was dialed in from downtown again going 5-of-8 behind the arc on his way to 23 points. Sophomore Jerami Grant finished with a career-high 19 points and game-best eight rebounds off the bench before fouling out and senior C.J. Fair contributed 14 points and seven boards.
Both squads shot better than 50-percent with Syracuse holding a slight edge at 53.4-percent (31-58) to 51.9-percent (28-54). SU also finished 50-percent (7-14) from long distance. As a team, the Orange shot 23-of-24 (.958) from the free-throw line, the fifth highest percentage in program history.
A tightly contested first half featured 10 lead changes and eight ties. Neither team led by more than five points in the game's opening 20 minutes. With the score knotted at 14-14, California used a quick five point spurt to go up 19-14. Syracuse responded with the next six points to regain the edge at 20-19, but David Kravish converted a three-point play to put the Golden Bears back on top.
The teams continued to trade baskets, tying the game four more times along the way to get to 30-30 with 3:58 left in the half. After Cal went in front 33-32, SU got a pair of free throws from Ennis and a three-point play from Grant for its largest lead of the first 20 minutes at 37-33 and didn't trail for the remainder of the half. A free throw by Kameron Rooks with six seconds to go tied the contest 41-41.
SU enjoyed a 10-2 run in the opening three minutes of the second half to build a 51-45 lead, capped by back-to-back three-pointers from Ennis and Cooney. California answered the Orange's stretch with a 9-3 spurt of its own to even the score at 54-54, the 10th tie of the night. Grant hit a jumper on Syracuse's next possession and SU stayed ahead the rest of the way.
An Ennis layup with 66 seconds left to play gave Syracuse its largest margin of the game at 88-75. Two free throws from Cooney 11 seconds later matched the largest lead at 90-77.
Four Cal players also finished with double-digit scoring. Justin Cobbs paced the Golden Bears with 18 points and a game-high eight assists and four steals. Jabari Bird tallied 17 points and a club-best seven rebounds.