- Associated Press - Thursday, November 26, 2015

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) - Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney each had 17 points and Syracuse beat No. 18 Connecticut 79-76 on Thursday to advance to the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Tyler Lydon added 16 points off the bench. Gbinije also had seven assists.

The teams traded the lead at the start of the second half, with neither able to get much separation.

That changed around the 13-minute mark when the Orange (5-0) tightened their zone on defense, and started an 18-8 spurt that gave Syracuse a 65-55 lead with 7:45 remaining. The Orange then fought off several spurts by the Huskies (4-1) to preserve the win.

Daniel Hamilton led UConn with 18 points. Sterling Gibbs and Rodney Purvis each added 12.

UConn’s Amida Brimah was forced to the bench during Syracuse’s big run, picking up his fourth foul.

But the Huskies kept picking away at the lead, and closed to within 73-71 on a 3-pointer by Purvis. The Orange strung together some free throws to push the lead back to seven. UConn rallied again and trimmed that lead to 79-76 with 36.8 seconds left.

Syracuse was forced into a wild shot with the shot clock winding down. But it found the ball in a scramble for the rebound, and was able to run out the final seconds.

UConn raced out to a 10-point lead, but Syracuse fought back to tie it at halftime.

Both teams shot well in the half, and shared with ball while doing it. Syracuse had five assists on its 10 baskets, and the Huskies had seven on their 11 made field goals.

TIP-INS

UConn: The Huskies struggled from the free throw line, connecting on just 14 of its 21 attempts. … Outscored Syracuse’s bench 19-16,

Syracuse: Scored 17 points off 13 Connecticut turnovers. … Five Orange players reached double figures.

UP NEXT

The Huskies play Gonzaga in the third-place game on Friday.

Syracuse plays No. 25 Texas A&M; in the championship game.

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