Syracuse slithers past Virginia Tech with a 68-60 OT win

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first_imgMalachi Richardson stood 30 feet from the basket, no ball in sight, and flapped his arms into the air. The Carrier Dome crowd was loud, but he wanted it to get even louder. Syracuse had trailed by seven in the closing minutes of regulation, improbably forced overtime and willed its way to an eight-point lead against a Virginia Tech team that refused to go away.Now the Hokies were done pressing because an Orange win was all but sealed. Players were exchanged emphatic high-fives in front of the SU bench. When the final buzzer sounded, Michael Gbinije let the ball roll away from him and finally exhaled.“Really that’s as good of a comeback as you’re going to see,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “… Especially at the end, that last spurt was incredible in regulation.”Then Boeheim let out an audible sigh, his tie nowhere to be found and his top button undone. For the second time in two seasons, Syracuse trailed late — nearly too late — before stealing a win from Virginia Tech. Last February in the Carrier Dome, the Hokies held a 8-point lead with four minutes go, but Gbinije eventually won it on a buzzer-beater. This time, SU (16-8, 6-5 Atlantic Coast) erased a late Virginia Tech (12-11, 4-6) lead to capture a 68-60 win on a night where it played far from its best basketball.But that didn’t matter, at least as far as the final scoreboard was concerned. In its fourth game in nine days, the Orange willed its way to its unlikeliest win of the season and improved to 6-1 since starting 0-4 in ACC play.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We’re in a good a position as we can be in really, realistically, starting out 0-4 in this league,” Boeheim said. “… We just got to keep fighting. We can’t do anything about that. We have to get better and I think we need some time off.”Boeheim said it was the first game since his return from suspension that the Orange just “didn’t have it,” and was much was evident in the first 20 minutes.With 11:58 left in regulation and Syracuse still playing as poor as it did out of the gate, the Dome crowd screamed through every Virginia Tech possession and contested each foul call against SU as if it were deciding the entire season. But the Hokies answered each of Syracuse’s pushes with a stadium-quieting bucket to preserve a one-possession lead.Then the Orange would score and turn the noise back on. Then the Hokies would score and turn it back off. On, then off. Off, then on. That’s how it went until Virginia Tech bumped its lead to five and SU started to unravel.But then it caught itself, just in time.Down seven with a minute and a half remaining, Richardson hit a step-back 3 in front of the Orange to cut the Hokies’ lead to four. On Syracuse’s next possession, Richardson knifed inside and dumped a pass to Lydon, whose two-handed dunk shaved the deficit to two with 1:01 on the clock.After Justin Bibbs missed the back end of two free throws with 46 seconds left, Cooney grabbed the ball in a crowd and Gbinije brought it down court. The fifth-year senior called for a Roberson screen he had no intention of using, the game clock flying below 30 seconds, and coolly made a 3 from way behind the 3-point line.“That was a hell of a shot,” Cooney said of Gbinije’s game-tying 3. “And a hell of a time to step up and make it.”Bibbs missed on the other end and Gbinije raced down the floor and found Richardson open behind the 3-point line, a wide-open shot separating Syracuse from the come-from-behind win. It arced toward the rim and a suspended silence cut through the delirium in the Dome. But the ball hit the front rim, then back rim before falling to the court.Overtime. Five more minutes. One last chance for the Orange to show it has the guts to win three conference games in five days.And that’s exactly what it did.Gbinije hit a step-back jumper. Cooney swished a 3. Richardson did too. By the time Dajuan Coleman walked to the foul line with 45 seconds left in the extra period, Syracuse’s lead had stretched to seven and half of the players on Virginia Tech’s bench were staring at their shoes.There was nothing for the Hokies to look at on the court. Just a celebrating team and its celebrating fans. Another year and another opportunity slipped away.“You just have to remind yourself that it’s not over until it’s over,” Gbinije said. “… We want to win. We realize we may not have the resume to get in the tournament, so we’re really trying to go full throttle and try and make something happen.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 2, 2016 at 10:39 pm Contact Jesse: jcdoug01@syr.edu | @dougherty_jesselast_img read more