- Associated Press - Thursday, March 20, 2014

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Syracuse guard Trevor Cooney was mired in a shooting slump, and his woes coincided with a late-season swoon by the Orange.

Say goodbye to both.

Cooney scored 18 points, fellow guard Tyler Ennis had 16, and the Orange defense clamped down in a 77-53 victory over Western Michigan on Thursday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Cooney hit 4 of 8 from beyond the arc and Ennis had six assists with one turnover to spark the Orange, who shot 28 of 57 (49.1 percent) from the field and hit 7 of 17 from long range.

“It was just good to see one go in,” Cooney said. “It adds to your confidence a little bit, and I was able to get into a good rhythm and guys found me in good spots. The ball just went in today.”

Since matching a school record with nine 3-pointers that keyed a six-point win over Notre Dame last month, Cooney had hit just 10 of 51 (19.6 percent) from beyond the arc. That abysmal shooting came during Syracuse’s swoon, which included a three-point loss to North Carolina State in the ACC tournament last week.

That’s all forgotten now.

“Same guy,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “He’s just got to get his looks and take them. He’s definitely stayed up the whole time. He’s played the other parts of the game. It’s a big difference when he makes shots.”

Syracuse (28-5), the third seed in the South Regional, will play 11th-seeded Dayton (24-10) on Saturday. Dayton beat Ohio State 60-59 on Thursday.

The Orange won their first 25 games and were ranked No. 1 for three weeks before losing five of seven in that late-season skid.

Western Michigan (23-10), the Mid-American Conference champion, had won 14 of 16 games and was in the NCAA tournament for the first time in a decade.

The Orange forced 11 turnovers in the opening half and scored 13 points off them in running out to a double-digit lead before the midpoint of the period. Syracuse used an 18-4 spurt over 10 minutes to take control and led 40-21 at halftime.

The Broncos took care of the ball in the second half, losing it only twice, but the deficit was much too daunting to overcome as Syracuse dominated the glass 41-25 and scored 15 second-chance points.

“We ran into a buzz saw today,” WMU coach Steve Hawkins said. “We made too many mistakes in the first half. We had 11 turnovers in the first half and that’s what staked them out to that lead. I felt like after we started taking care of the ball in the second half, we got a few better looks.”

Jerami Grant finished with 16 points, while C.J. Fair, double- and triple-teamed nearly every time he touched the ball, finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.

Story Continues →