CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Nate Solomon ducked his defender and took a step to the middle, curling toward the cage.He cocked his stick back over his right shoulder and unleashed a shot past North Carolina goalie Caton Johnson. Solomon pumped his fist then turned to hug Brett Kennedy and Peter Dearth, who swarmed him after setting up the fastbreak that put Syracuse ahead, 11-7, with less than a second to play in the third quarter.“It can be a little bit deflating (for the opponent),” SU head coach John Desko said. “It was a big one for us.”No. 9 Syracuse (8-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) started the second half tied with No. 18 North Carolina (7-5, 1-2) at seven goals each. It ended the third quarter up 11-7, smothering the Tar Heels offense and squeezing out enough goals to pull away and win, 12-9, on Saturday afternoon at Fetzer Field. The victory moves the Orange to .500 in conference play, potentially pushing it out of the ACC tournament’s play-in game.“To tie it up at halftime was huge for us,” attack Bradley Voigt said. “And we just went in to the locker room at halftime knowing we could control the rest of the game.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe conference moved to a new tournament format this season to include the fifth team, previously left out. The No. 4 and No. 5 seeds play to face the No. 1-seed, already secured by Virginia.The Orange have finished 2-2 or better in the ACC for the last four years. The last two seasons they went 4-0 in conference. Coming into North Carolina with a 1-2 record, SU hoped to preserve the streak.It did, but with Duke topping the Cavaliers minutes after SU’s win, the Orange are reliant on a UNC win against Notre Dame next Saturday to secure a third-place or higher finish. After Saturday’s win, Desko said he’d heard chatter from players in the locker room about the stakes, but opted not to jump in and distract from the opponent.“I thought about it a little bit before — what could happen where in the ACC tournament,” he said. “But, right now I can’t control anything.”Syracuse, a team that’s avoided early lulls in back-to-back dominating wins, looked like it would do the same. The Orange bolted to a 2-0 lead. But the Tar Heels’ top-20 offense punched back, ripping off six-straight to put the Orange in a 6-2 hole early in the second quarter.The Orange responded with a four-goal run of their own. A goal each way knotted the contest, seven each, at half. In the locker room, SU’s attack knew they hadn’t played at their highest level, Voigt said. They still churned out seven goals despite rushing shots early in the shot clock and playing frantically through transition.“Halfway through the shot clock we were settling for shots that we could get with 10 seconds left,” Voigt said.With 10:40 left in the quarter, Jared Fernandez forced a turnover and Stephen Rehfuss scooped the ground ball. Pat Carlin drove to his right hand from the alley. When his defender forced him wide, Carlin spun right, dropped his stick and shot between Johnson’s legs, breaking the tie and putting SU up for good.About a minute later, the Orange got the ball back after a low pass from behind Drake Porter’s cage slipped through the legs of UNC attack Nicky Solomon. The ball trickled out of bounds, and SU got the restart. Barely a minute later, David Lipka sprinted out to his left from the midfield, whipping a shot across his body and rippling the twine behind Johnson to build a 9-7 lead. Voigt tacked on a tally of his own 1:11 later.For the rest of the half, the Orange smothered the North Carolina offense, deflecting shots, forcing turnovers and pushing possessions late into the shot clock. It never broke down.Then, finally, Solomon put the finisher on one of the most important quarters Syracuse has played all season. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 13, 2019 at 6:04 pm Contact Andrew: email@example.com | @A_E_Graham
“The one thing I think this team couldn’t do on a daily basis against us that they’re doing against everybody else is go small,” Scott said. “You got Magic, James and Kareem as post-up players that demanded double-teams. It would be a whole lot harder. Draymond is a great defender and I have a lot of respect for him. But guarding James Worthy or guarding Kareem? That wouldn’t happen. It would be very interesting.”Both the Showtime Lakers and Warriors play at a frenetic pace. Both excelled on defense. But Scott argued both teams had different identities. “They are volume shooters from 3. We weren’t,” Scott said. “We were definitely inside-out. But James Worthy and Kareem are two of the best post players who have ever played. Magic at 6-9 is unbelievable as well. It would be a very interesting series.”Playful barbsAt first, it sounded liked Kobe Bryant offered a compliment. But as he gushed about former Lakers teammate and Warriors interim coach Luke Walton, Bryant actually delivered a punchline. “I told him he was the next Phil (Jackson),” Bryant said, and the reason had nothing to do with Jackson’s 11 NBA championships. “He was an average player with a messed-up back.”Walton reported that “he got a good laugh” when he learned about Bryant’s comments.“Anytime we had a chance to make fun of anybody, we did,” Walton said. “Kobe was very creative with his jokes. I loved Kobe as a teammate.”Bryant then turned serious, arguing that “Phil saw a lot of himself in Luke.” Jackson stayed sidelined during the New York Knicks’ 1969-70 NBA championship season after injuring his back. Then, Knicks coach Red Holzman made Jackson a de-facto assistant coach. Walton also had back issues during the Lakers’ 2009-10 NBA championship season. So Jackson invited Walton to coaches’ meetings. Walton also charted plays on the sideline.“I was depressed,” Walton said. “Sitting with (Phil), Frank (Hamblen) and Brian Shaw and that whole staff lifted my spirits. I saw right there you still get that sense of camaraderie that you have as a player.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error OAKLAND >> The question caused Lakers coach Byron Scott to offer an incredulous look, suggesting there should not even be a debate. Would the Showtime Lakers beat the current Golden State Warriors?“In a seven-game series? Absolutely,” Scott said before the Lakers played Golden State on Tuesday at the Oracle. “I don’t know in how many (games). But in my mind and humble opinion, we would win a seven-game series against them.”The Showtime Lakers won five NBA championships headlined by a Hall of Fame guard (Magic Johnson), Hall of Fame center (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), Hall of Fame forward (James Worthy) and an elite defender (Michael Cooper). Jamaal Wilkes and Scott were along for part of the ride, too. The Warriors won the 2015 NBA championship with a sharp-shooting backcourt (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson), a versatile forward (Draymond Green) and an elite defender (Andre Iguodala).