PLAIN CITY — Only moments after the opening tip-off between Syracuse and Fremont, the Silver Wolves' student section immediately began chanting, "It's all over" despite only five seconds being erased from the clock.
Well, the students must have had a premonition because that's exactly how the game went as Fremont stormed to a 53-32 victory Friday night.
"We're playing pretty well — end of Round 1 in region play," stated Fremont coach Corey Melaney. "We feel real good about it, but we still have eight more games and we'll take it one game at a time."
Neither team could find a groove on either end of the court throughout the first half. Sloppiness defined the first 16 minutes. The two teams combined for 19 turnovers in the first half alone, and the score read: Fremont 15, Nick Winegar 9, for he was he only Titan to score in the entire first half.
"We struggled shooting the ball in the first half, but I thought that we played good defense," said Melaney. "Our defense kept us in the game, that's what we always really rely on, is defense and rebounding. We got hot, and we rolled 'em."
Fully aware of the ice cold fingers that had infected his players, Melaney instructed his team to do what it does best — defend.
"We've got guys that bought in and dig in," said Melaney. "We trust them, even if we're not playing well offensively — as long as you're playing well defensively, you'll be on the floor."
Fremont was able to frustrate Syracuse into 21 turnovers and didn't allow a jump-shot outside of five feet until the six-minute mark left in the fourth quarter — with every point coming from either a lay-up or free throw.
Perhaps the biggest reason for the defensive supremacy was the emergence of Tate Lewis, who was making his fifth appearance this season after returning from an injury.
"Tate is coming off that injury and this is by far his best game, and he's been having tremendous practices and he's just going to get better as the year goes on," said Melaney. "He gave us a great lift coming off the bench with defense, rebounding, blocked shots and offensively of course."
Lewis led all scorers, finishing with 19 points.Comment on this story
The turning point came midway through the third quarter with the score 20-15. Fremont's Patrick Fishburn pulled up within spitting distance of his own bench and drained a 3-pointer. On the ensuing possession, this time coming off a screen, Fishburn netted another trifecta to push the score to 26-15.
After a Lewis put-back, Fishburn once again sunk consecutive treys to put the game completely out of reach.
Fishburn ended with 17 points on the night after scoring three in the first half.
"Fishburn is a tremendous shooter and we knew if he (got) open looks then he's gonna knock them down," remarked Melaney. "Props to our guys for setting good screens and delivering the ball on time."