SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's 71st birthday looked like a downer much of Tuesday night but his Orange came back to provide a nice come-from-behind present.
''I didn't want to lose on my birthday, I don't like that,'' Boeheim said after Syracuse outscored the upset-minded Bonnies 50-31 after intermission to defeat their Upstate New York foe 79-66.
''This was a really good effort against a very good team that I thought had it going, they got their rhythm going,'' Boeheim said. ''They had a lot of positives that you have to stop and take away. We got some steals, didn't give them anything easy. They made 11 3s, two of them were pure luck. We overcame a good team . ... Their defense was really good, our guys overcame that. It was a really good win.''
It was the first game between the schools since 2009. St. Bonaventure last defeated Syracuse Jan. 26, 1981.
Syracuse shot just 37 percent from the field in the first half but got hot in the second, hitting 14 of 25 attempts. The Orange committed just three of its 12 turnovers in the second half after a mistake-filled first 20 minutes. The undersized Bonnies out-rebounded Syracuse 43-33 and scored 29 second-chance points.
''We have to be better rebounding the ball,'' Boeheim said.
Michael Gbinije scored 23 points, including 13 in the decisive final 20 minutes, and Trevor Cooney had 18 as Syracuse (2-0) overcame a listless first-half that ended with them trailing 35-29.
''The first half was a complete struggle on offense,'' Boeheim said.
''I thought in the first half we did what we wanted to do offensively, defensively, on the backboards,'' said Bonnies coach Mark Schmidt. ''We took care of the ball for the most part. In the second half I thought Syracuse exposed us defensively.
''We had some opportunities, particularly in the first half, to push the lead out a little more with some great opportunities that we screwed up,'' Schmidt added. ''I thought our effort was good for the most part. When you get 24 offensive rebounds you're doing something right. One of my assistants said we had just five clean stops in the second half and you can't beat a team like Syracuse doing that.''
St. Bonaventure: St. Bonaventure, which has never won in Syracuse, entered the game with just eight healthy scholarship players. ... Sophomore guard Idris Taqqee was a prep school roommate of Syracuse guard Kaleb Joseph at Cushing Academy.
Syracuse: SU students serenaded Boeheim with a chorus of Happy Birthday before the game. ... Jim Satalin, the second-winningest coach in St. Bonaventure history, is now a color analyst on Syracuse basketball radio broadcasts.
Syracuse plays Elon Saturday night in the Carrier Dome as part of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
St. Bonaventure hosts Loyola (Md) Saturday night.