LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) – Baylor fell just short of the Maui tournament title it wanted.
But after losing 74-67 to No. 8 Syracuse on Wednesday night, Bears coach Scott Drew said he was pleased with how his players battled in the finale and earlier wins over Chaminade and Dayton.
“I thought we left here becoming a better team,” he said of his 18th-ranked squad.
Meanwhile, Jim Boeheim and Syracuse remained perfect in Maui.
C.J. Fair scored 14 of his 24 points in the second half and the Orange (7-0) delivered three wins in three days. Syracuse took control against Baylor midway through the first half and limited the Bears’ hopes of a comeback. Syracuse beat Minnesota on Monday and California on Tuesday, improving to 9-0 all-time at Maui. The Orange also won the tournament in 1990 and 1998.
“And guess what — I’m never coming back,” said Boeheim jokingly after the game in a television interview.
He later told reporters: “The next time I come to Maui I will have my golf clubs.”
Fair won the tournament’s MVP, taking home a wooden trophy shaped like a basketball. After the game, he posed for photos with several fans with the hardware before walking off the floor.
“I’m still in the moment, so I’m good to go,” Fair said. “Tomorrow at practice, it’ll hit me then.”
Syracuse stopped would-be runs by Baylor several times. The loss snapped Baylor’s 11-game winning streak — longest in the nation — dating back to last season’s NIT championship run.
Baylor had a 10-2 run to make it 68-62 with Cory Jefferson dunking an alley-oop pass, but Fair responded immediately with a jumper with just over two minutes left.
Earlier, Baylor pulled to within 4 points when Jefferson tipped in a missed shot by Kenny Chery, but Syracuse answered with a 10-point run capped by a steal by Trevor Cooney that led to a fast break and a layup for Tyler Ennis to make it 66-52 with just over five minutes left.
Jerami Grant scored 19 points and also made the event’s all-tournament team. Cooney and Ennis scored 11 points each.
Syracuse shot just under 51 percent, hanging on in the second half after shooting 57.1 percent before halftime. Baylor outscored Syracuse by 1 point in the second half.
“We are figuring out how to make plays. Three nights in a row against good teams — this was a really good tournament for us,” Boeheim said.
Jefferson led Baylor (6-1) with 15 points. Brady Heslip and Chery had 12 points each.
“There is always room for improvement win or lose no matter what happens,” Jefferson said. “We’re just going to go back, watch film of the games, over this whole tournament. Look at the things we did wrong and improve it.”
Syracuse jumped to a 10-2 lead on 3-pointers by Fair and Ennis and a jumper from Cooney. Baylor quickly closed the gap and took a 16-14 lead on Brady Heslip’s 3-pointer.
Fair later scored five straight points to give Syracuse its first double-digit lead of the night midway through the first half. First, he hit a 3 from the left corner. He then thought about shooting a long jumper the next possession, but instead pulled the ball down and drove to the basket, laying it in left-handed.
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