No. 4 Syracuse beats EMU 84-48 despite scandal
SYRACUSE, N.Y.—Playing for the first time since assistant coach Bernie Fine was fired, No. 4 Syracuse remained unbeaten with an 84-48 victory over Eastern Michigan on Tuesday night.
Fine has been accused by three men of molesting them and was fired Sunday after 35-plus years on the bench next to coach Jim Boeheim. Fine has denied the allegations.
James Southerland scored 19 points to match his career high as the Orange improved their record to 7-0.
Boeheim was greeted by a standing ovation when he walked onto the Carrier Dome court that bears his name. First-year Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy, an assistant for seven years under Boeheim, greeted the Hall of Famer with a warm hug, and Boeheim received another raucous cheer when he was introduced after the players.
Then, it was back to basketball after a tumultuous weekend of new revelations in the investigation of child molestation allegations against Fine.
Syracuse took charge with an 18-3 run spanning halftime. Southerland scored seven of the points, hitting a fallaway jumper on the baseline, a 3-pointer from the left wing, and converting a resounding slam dunk off a pretty lob pass from Scoop Jardine to give the Orange a 32-24 halftime lead.
Jardine started the second half with a jumper from the right wing, then fed Fab Melo with a no-look pass for another dunk. Kris Joseph and Brandon Triche followed with 3-pointers to boost the lead to 42-26 and the Eagles (4-3) were grounded.
Triche had 12 points and Joseph 11 for Syracuse.
Darrell Lampley led Eastern Michigan (4-2) with 19 points.
Some commentators and sex abuse victims' advocates had said Boeheim should resign or be fired after three men, including two former Syracuse ballboys, accused Fine of molesting them and Boeheim verbally attacked the accusers.
After initially saying Fine's first two accusers were lying to make money in the wake of the Penn State University sexual abuse scandal, Boeheim backed off those comments in a statement Sunday.
"What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found," Boeheim said after the firing of Fine, who has denied the allegations. "I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse."
Syracuse University Chancellor Nancy Cantor gave Boeheim a vote of confidence earlier Tuesday after emerging from an economic development conference with state officials in Albany.
"Coach Boeheim is our coach; he's getting the team ready tonight," Cantor said. "We're very pleased with what he said Sunday night, and we stand by it."
Some fans offered their support before Tuesday night's game.
"I feel sorry that he stuck up for a friend," said 40-year-old Mike Wong of Syracuse. "He was just sticking up for Bernie. He didn't understand the situation. I think the chancellor did the right thing."
"It's sad," added 29-year-old Michael Knowles of Syracuse. "We've all stuck up for a friend and then realized we shouldn't have. He (Boeheim) didn't do anything wrong."
In its last home game against Colgate 10 days ago, Fine's customary seat was left vacant and players tapped it as a symbolic gesture in support of Fine. On Tuesday night, there was no empty seat.
And the Rev. Robert Hoatson, president of Road to Recovery, a group that supports victims of sexual abuse, says Boeheim, too, should be gone.
"We want to keep saying that Jim Boeheim should resign or be fired," Hoatson said.