SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- It wasn't practice. It only seemed that
way for Syracuse's Craig Forth.
The No. 19 Orangemen's hulking 7-foot center scored a
career-high 14 points and grabbed six rebounds in a 74-61 victory
over Siena on Saturday.Forth's performance came on the heels of a solid six-point,
six-rebound game Wednesday night against Manhattan and was his
third strong outing in four games."Offensively, he helps us tremendously when he's in there,"
coach Jim Boeheim said. "If he can also get in the open spots and
score, that makes it even better. Defensively, he's helping us more
this year. He's moving, getting into position better, getting his
hands up, making people take tough shots."Although Forth has started every game of his Syracuse career,
the junior has rarely lived up to expectations. Right now, his
teammates are brimming with confidence."Craig's been playing great," guard Gerry McNamara said.
"This is the Craig that we know, that we see every day in
practice. He dominates our practices, and he's starting to do it in
the game. When he's active, we're going to be really good. When
he's lackadaisical in the middle, it's going to be a different
story."It was the fifth straight victory for Syracuse (5-1) and the
fifth straight loss for Siena (3-5).The Orangemen took command with a 17-4 run in the first half
that began after Michael Haddix hit a layup over Forth's
outstretched arms with 8:57 remaining to move Siena within 20-19.
Hakim Warrick, who led the Orange with 24 points and 10 rebounds,
scored seven points and Forth hit for five to key the spurt.Warrick's one-hand slam dunk finished a three-way passing play
with McNamara and Forth and put Syracuse up 23-19 with 8:23 left.
After Forth hit a 16-foot jumper in the lane, he hit a reverse hook
off a baseline feed from Warrick, was fouled and sank the free
throw for a 32-23 lead at 5:07."Finishing things around the basket is one thing coach Boeheim
wants me to work on," said Forth, who played a career-high 33
minutes. "Tonight I was able to. I'm working on it (jump shot)
every day. Hopefully, it starts to fall."That what was perhaps the best all-around game of his career
came against the Saints -- Siena is located just across the Hudson
River from his hometown of East Greenbush, N.Y. -- didn't matter one
bit."Obviously, there's guys from home, and I can go home in the
summer and say, 'Hey, we played well," said Forth, who had eight
points and a career-high 12 rebounds in a victory over St.
Bonaventure just over two weeks ago. "It's a little bit of a
hometown territory thing."Billy Edelin had nine points, eight rebounds, six assists and no
turnovers, McNamara added 12 points, and Josh Pace 11 for the
Orangemen.Haddix led Siena with 19 points and nine rebounds, Austin
Andrews had 14 points and Justin Miller 10.A dunk by Forth and a fast-break layup by Louie McCroskey gave
Syracuse its biggest lead, 58-37, with 11:58 left in the game
before Siena rallied with a 20-8 run.Haddix had nine points to lead the Saints' surge. His fast-break
layup with 4:51 left moved the Saints to 66-57, but they never got
closer."I don't think we beat ourselves," Siena coach Rob Lanier
said. "I think we issued a little bit of a challenge to them, and
they responded like a good team."If you take what we invested in this game and could transfer
that into some other games, we'd end up with a victory, but it
doesn't work that way."