The young backcourt of the Syracuse Orange proved their mettle against the California Golden Bears as the Orange pulled away in the second half on Tuesday, 92-81, to advance to the Maui Invitational Championship game.
A dunk by Cal's Justin Cobbs had the game tied at 54 with 12:44 remaining. Syracuse responded by slowly increasing their lead to ten points over the next five minutes, with Jerami Grant scoring seven of his 19 points in the timespan, highlighted by a big dunk of his own.
The freshman Ennis led the charge with 28 points, a game high. Cooney added 23 points as the Orange used a balanced inside-and-out attack to take down the Bears. Syracuse shot 53.4 percent from the floor and was 7-of-14 from the beyond arc. Ennis and Cooney combined for 26 of the Orange's final 30 points in the game.
Syracuse had to battle a feisty Bears team that kept the game close by attacking the offensive glass. Freshman guard Jabari Bird led the way for Cal, scoring 17 points with seven rebounds, four of which were on the offensive end. Senior guard Justin Cobbs finished with 18 points and eight assists, but the Bears struggled from behind the arc, which made it tough to get back in the game as the deficit stretched. Cal missed five of their final six three-point attempts.
The Orange will play the winner between Baylor and Dayton in the Maui Invitation Championship game. Syracuse has won the Maui Invitational twice, in 1990 and 1998.