Syracuse falls short of No. 8 North Carolina in nail-biting 75-70 loss

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Jim Boeheim thought the play was set up for Michael Gbinije to look for a 3.The Orange had been trailing the entire second half. Its only lead all night lasted all but 70 seconds. Every run that North Carolina posted and every fever pitch roar from the Dean E. Smith Center was met by SU doing something to silence it.After Syracuse got a stop with 44 seconds to play, it trailed by three and Gbinije knew how much time he had. He felt in control of the possession. He knew a 3-pointer could erase a wavering but always present UNC lead. But with the Orange trailing by three points and the clock ticking dangerously below 10 seconds, Gbinije passed up a 3 for an out-of-control drive to the basket.“I didn’t make a good decision given the outcome,” Gbinije said.North Carolina’s Joel Berry II got the rebound and was fouled with 6.6 seconds to play. He made the two ensuing free throws. The Tar Heels lead was finally permanent. Syracuse (19-11, 9-8 Atlantic Coast) hung with No. 8 UNC (24-6, 13-4) on the road, but dropped a 75-70 decision to keep itself on the proverbial NCAA Tournament bubble.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse shot 5-of-20 from 3, but recorded 32 points in the paint. It allowed 19 offensive rebounds, but UNC only scored 16 subsequent points.“If you’re not on, you’ve got to do the other things,” SU guard Trevor Cooney said. “And we did the other things today. We just couldn’t make that one shot or one stop at the end.”Cooney hit two 3-pointers in the span of 25 seconds after not making one in nine days. But on the next possession he shot an airball. There was 2:37 left in the first half and he wouldn’t make another field goal the rest of the game.Tyler Roberson showed from the outset that he was back to the high-volume rebounder and scorer that he’d been when he’s at his best. He posted nine points and 11 rebounds. But a chance to cut into a nine-point lead was wasted when he caught an open lob and the shot bounced off the front rim.Gbinije made two big momentum plays. The first was a putback, and-one dunk off a missed Cooney 3. The second was a step-back shot from behind the arc to cut the lead to one with 2:23 to play. But he also committed seven turnovers and missed the other five 3-pointers he shot.Syracuse made some plays. It hit some shots. It had some important defensive stands. It had four runs of four points or more in the second half. It found momentum but then saw it slip away.“To me the day was about winning,” UNC head coach Roy Williams said. “I didn’t care how. I didn’t care if we shot the ball well. I didn’t care if we’d rebounded well. I just wanted to look up on the clock and see we had more points.”The 6.6 seconds left on the clock wasn’t enough to do anything. Malachi Richardson pulled up from 3 with hardly anytime before the buzzer and his shot hit off the rim. UNC got the rebound and Boeheim motioned for his team not to foul even though the buzzer had gone off.It took all 40 minutes for the Tar Heels to know that a lead it held for 38 minutes and 50 seconds would finish safely in their grasp. Syracuse played far from its best game against North Carolina, and still it competed into the final minute.“I thought we battled them very well for a long time,” Boeheim said. “… They played with a lot momentum, got the lead and we just battled back, showed a lot of heart.” Comments Published on February 29, 2016 at 9:50 pm Contact Sam: [email protected] | @SamBlum3center_img Related Stories Gallery: Syracuse drops 75-70 decision to No. 8 North Carolinalast_img

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