Syracuse comeback falls short in 65-61 loss against Pittsburgh

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Usually, nobody besides Jim Boeheim stands on the Syracuse sideline.SU teams don’t usually get beaten so badly in the high post, though, or depend so heavily on three players. This year’s Orange never has B.J. Johnson and Ron Patterson on the floor with the game on the line. But with just under nine minutes left, another defensive breakdown led to another Pitt look at the rim, another SU foul and a pair of made free throws from Sheldon Jeter. Gerry McNamara stood up and shouted. Whatever he shouted, he shouted at a battered team. Tyler Roberson had a band-aid on his left eyebrow and tissue in his left nostril. Trevor Cooney had only just returned to the game after going to the locker room with members of the SU training staff. Even McNamara, the former Orange point guard, had tape and a brace on his right hand.The battered team (17-10, 8-6 Atlantic Coast) was getting beat, 65-61, by Pitt (18-10, 7-7). The 30,144 watching in the Carrier Dome saw another odd twist in an already-strange Syracuse season as this year’s team became the first Orange squad to lose 10 regular season games since 2008. AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“I though we played as hard as you could ask a team to play,” Boeheim said. “It was a great battle back at the end. We made some great defensive plays. I thought we gave ourselves an opportunity to win the game.”In some ways, it was again so simple. The Orange is dependent on Rakeem Christmas, Trevor Cooney and Michael Gbinije. The first stayed dominant, the second was absent and the third was solid, but not the game-saving hero he’s been for much of February.All of which was almost — but not — enough to beat what would be a fellow bubble team if SU didn’t have a self-imposed postseason ban.While Syracuse was in the game and within two possessions for the game’s final two minutes, Cooney wasn’t. He was sitting with a sprain in his back and shot 0-for-5 from the field and 0-for-4 from 3. Kaleb Joseph wasn’t playing either. He was also 0-for-5 in 16 minutes, his shortest showing of the season.Instead, Johnson, a player who averaged 13.4 minutes per game when he woke up Saturday morning, gave the Carrier Dome crowd hope and a reason to stand when he lofted up a right-corner 3 with one minute remaining. When it fell, the Orange trailed just 61-60, but got no closer.“I think it’s definitely frustrating,” Johnson said. “All of us are playing as hard as we can, but then you get to the end of the game and you can’t finish it. It adds up.”With 39 seconds left and SU down by one, Christmas was called for a moving screen on a pick-and-roll with Gbinije. Johnson fouled his man on the ensuing inbounds play, James Robinson sank a pair of free throws, Gbinije missed one of his own two to leave Syracuse down 2 with 19 seconds remaining.Robinson appeared to travel twice as Patterson and Gbinije trapped him on Pitt’s last possession, which Cameron Wright ended with a lay-in past Christmas with 17 seconds left.With six seconds left, Roberson’s right-handed layup rolled off the rim into Robinson’s hands. The buzzer sounded moments later. Roberson turned to the Orange bench, yanked the tissue out of his nose, and with the rest of the SU team that took the program’s earliest 10th loss since 1997, shuffled through handshakes and into the locker room.A season consoled by a win over No. 12 Louisville just a few days earlier floundered once again.“We have to do more,” Gbinije said. “We’re not doing enough.” Comments Published on February 21, 2015 at 2:24 pm Contact Jacob: [email protected] | @Jacob_Klinger_last_img