A pair of second half runs by Virginia Tech put it in doubt, but Syracuse was able to hang on for a 71-69 road victory on Saturday afternoon, their third conference win in a row. The Orange (17-7, 4-3 ACC) led by 16 points in the first half and 13 after the break, but never gave up the lead despite the Hokies’ (13-5, 4-3) comeback.
SU led, 47-34, just over four minutes out of halftime, but Virginia Tech ran off a 17-6 run closed by a pair of threes to draw within a deuce before the midpoint of the second half. Syracuse stretched the margin to eight, but the Hokies charged back with seven straight points to get within 66-65 with under two minutes to play.
The Orange did not fold, though, trading a pair of scores and eventually escaping on a bad VT miss that Marek Dolezaj rebounded. Dolezaj was then fouled with one second remaining and made the first foul shot to push the lead to two. The second free throw twirled off the rim and a Hokie heave missed everything, preserving the SU victory.
Syracuse struggled from long range, save for Buddy Boeheim’s 4-for-8 first half effort. The remainder of the game, the Orange collectively went 2-for-16 from deep. Virginia Tech had no such troubles, making 15 triples in the game. SU dominated inside, though, earning a 34-12 advantage in points in the paint as they shot just under 64 percent inside the arc.
Virginia Tech had the first burst of the afternoon, rattling off eight straight points for an early 11-4 lead. Syracuse answered shortly after with nine unanswered points to trigger a 28-6 run. Boeheim did most of the heavy lifting in that span, piling up 18 straight Orange points.
Howard Washington started the initial burst with a mid-range jumper off an inbounds pass. Boeheim then piled up seven quick points in under 90 seconds, hitting a right wing three-pointer and a pair of mid-range jumpers, the latter in the paint, for a 17-14 SU lead.
The Hokies tied the game once, then again after a Boeheim lay-up. And that is when Syracuse blew open the game with 11 points to start a 17-1 avalanche.
Boeheim ripped a deep three from the left wing, then caught a lead pass in transition for a long triple from the right wing, forcing a Virginia Tech time out at 25-19. Boeheim added another three from the right wing to run his personal streak to 18 straight points. Elijah Hughes added two foul shots to make it 30-19.
A VT free throw broke the streak, but Bourama Sidibe dropped in a lay-up, then Joe Girard III went coast-to-coast with a steal for a lay-in of his own. Dolezaj connected on a push shot from the mid-post and the Orange lead stood at 36-20 with just over four minutes left in the opening half.
That, however, was it for SU in the opening half. The Hokies halved the lead in the remaining time and the margin was 36-28 at the break. Syracuse reinforced their lead when they returned from the locker room, pushing it to 47-34 on Boeheim’s fifth three of the day just over four minutes after the break.
The Hokies immediately undid most of that, going off on a 17-6 run to draw within a basket.
The Orange responded by scoring nine of the next 13 points to rebuild a seven-point gap. Hughes connected on a pair of short jumpers and Boeheim added one, as well. Quincy Guerrier drove the left side for a lay-up while fouled. His free throw missed, but SU held a 62-55 lead with 5:28 to play.
Syracuse tacked an extra point onto that lead, which enabled them to withstand seven straight Hokie points that made it a 66-65 lead with under two minutes left.
Dolezaj powered in a lay-up, but VT responded with a jumper. Hughes drove across the lane and flipped in a banker, but the Hokies scored inside to answer, missing a tying foul shot and leaving it 70-69 in favor of the Orange with 40.3 seconds left.
SU gave the ball to Hughes, but his 17-footer airballed, creating a shot clock violation. Virginia Tech came out of their timeout and got a look at a three-pointer, but the shot thudded off the glass. Dolezaj secured the rebound, was fouled with one second to play, and his free throw made the final score 71-69.
Buddy Boeheim poured in 18 of his 26 points in the first half, needing a little over five minutes in the first half to do that damage. Elijah Hughes had 13 of his 17 points in the second half, but struggled from deep, finishing 1-of-7 from long range. Marek Dolezaj finished with 11 points and 11 boards for his second straight double-double.
Naheim Alleyne paced the hosts with 17 points, burying 5-of-6 triples. Jalen Cone made four treys, all in the first half, as he finished with 14 points. Landers Nolley II had 13 points while Wabissa Bede and P.J. Horne each chipped in with nine.
Syracuse will put a bow on this modest two-game road trip on Wednesday when they close another season series, this one at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish (11-6, 2-4) snapped a two-game slide on Wednesday night by pulling out a 78-74 win at Georgia Tech. Prentiss Hubb, who had 22 points and nine assists at the Carrier Dome earlier this month, paced the Irish with 25 points against the Yellow Jackets.
Double-double machine John Mooney averages 15.4 points and 13.9 rebounds a game for Notre Dame and had a monster night against SU, piling up 28 points and 14 boards. T.J. Gibbs hit six triples and had 21 points against the Orange.
Buddy Boeheim’s seven threes and 23 points paced Syracuse in the first matchup. Joe Girard III and Elijah Hughes combined for 39 points while Marek Dolezaj had 13 points, ten rebounds, and seven assists.
SU and Notre Dame will tip off on Wednesday at 7:00pm Eastern and the game will be televised by ESPN2.