Syracuse’s trio from Philadelphia enjoyed a fruitful homecoming.
Scoop Jardine scored 20 points and had six assists, Rick Jackson chipped in 18 points and Dion Waiters added two key free throws as No. 20 Syracuse defeated No. 14 Villanova 69-64.
“The difference was the Philly guys,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “They took control of the game.”
With Syracuse (23-6, 10-6 Big East) clinging to a 65-64 lead with 15 seconds left, Waiters calmly hit two free throws. On the ensuing possession, Villanova (21-7, 9-6) turned the ball over and Isaiah Armwood fouled Jackson.
Jackson, a 57 percent free throw shooter, made the first free throw, and then banked in the second as the Orange avenged a 83-72 loss to the Wildcats at the Carrier Dome on Jan. 22.
“We just want to beat Nova,” Jackson said. “It really helps you play harder.”
The win also gave Jardine, Waiters and Jackson bragging rights. Jardine and Jackson played at Neumann-Goretti High School in Philadelphia, while Waiters grew up with Jardine in the area.
“It’s always great to win,” Jardine said. “Villanova is our rival now being we’re from Philly. But it hurt more when we lost at home. It was nice to get back and get a win.”
Corey Stokes led Villanova with 24 points and Armwood contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The game had a completely different feel to it than Syracuse and Villanova’s earlier matchup. In that game, the Wildcats shot 50 percent from the field, including 11-for-24 from downtown as Villanova downed the Orange 83-72.
The Wildcats had no such shooting touch Monday, as they shot just 32 percent from the field and 5-for-26 from beyond the arc.
“In Syracuse, we gave them a lot of room and they made 3s,” Boeheim said. “Tonight we wanted to push up on them.”
The win was especially gratifying for Jardine.
In his career, Jardine had shot just 33 percent against his hometown school. But Jardine ended that trend by shooting 7-for-11 from the field.
But Jardine’s effort was nearly not enough as SU saw its 47-38 lead with 13:48 left vanish. The Wildcats used a 7-0 run to pull within 55-54 with 5:28 remaining.
Jardine responded by scoring six straight points for the Orange, including a 3-pointer that gave the Orange a five-point cushion with just under five minutes left.
“[Playing close games] gets us ready for anything,” Jardine said. “When we get to the tournament, we will have seen every situation put in front of it.”
Villanova would continue to stay close, as the Wildcats twice closed to within a single point. But SU, which never trailed after the 15:15 mark in the first half, never gave up the lead.
“We’ve had a lot of games where when we’ve stayed in them, we’ve been able to win them,” Boeheim said. “When we’ve been in the game, we’ve made plays down the stretch.”
Brad Bierman contributed to this report.