Syracuse fights back against Virginia, only to be blindsided at the buzzer

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Mar 11, 2021; Greensboro, North Carolina, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Quincy Guerrier (1) dunks in front of Virginia Cavaliers guard Trey Murphy III (25) during the first half in the quarterfinal round of the 2021 ACC tournament Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

In the final seconds of a tie game, Syracuse played good defense, giving up the shot they were willing to give up. Unfortunately, Reece Beekman hit the open three-pointer at the buzzer to propel top-seeded Virginia to a 72-69 quarterfinal victory in the ACC Tournament. Beekman, who had missed all five of his previous shots in the game, including three from beyond the arc, was open on the right wing and erased all of that negativity.

That triple also sent the #8-seed Orange (16-9) into a few days of waiting to find out if they will make the NCAA Tournament. The Cavaliers (18-6), meanwhile, advance to the semifinals of the tournament on Beekman’s ninth three-pointer of the season.

SU owned most of the first half of the game, but the contest turned when Virginia made two threes early in the second half to close a 16-2 run and take the lead for the first time. The Cavaliers had made just 3-of-18 threes to start the contest, but closed by making 8-of-17 from deep. The run coincided with the Syracuse offense going into the cooler, missing nine straight shots from the field over nearly seven minutes.

The Orange had no such problems on offense in the opening minutes, logging the first three scores of the game. Buddy Boeheim was still in gear from his 27 points against North Carolina State the day before, connecting on a turnaround below the foul line to get things going, then adding a three-pointer after a Marek Dolezaj bank shot for an early 7-0 SU lead.

Virginia climbed back into the game, clipping the margin down to a deuce a few minutes later. Syracuse responded with a 10-2 run capped with seven straight points. Robert Braswell swirled in a three-pointer, then Boeheim hit a pull-up three in transition after a Cavalier basket. Dolezaj lofted a lob for a Quincy Guerrier lay-up, then Boeheim slipped a pass to Braswell for a two-handed dunk and a 24-14 lead before the midpoint of the opening half.

Virginia worked the margin down to six, but the Orange replied with seven of nine points for their biggest lead of the day at 37-26. Braswell connected on a three after a long offensive rebound cane to him, then Boeheim added a triple of his own after a Cavalier bucket. Guerrier added a foul shot for the 11-point edge with 6:03 left before halftime.

The top seeds responded with a 10-2 run to pull within 39-36 at intermission. Back-to-back threes a couple minutes after the break gave Virginia their first lead of the day at 42-39 and forced an SU timeout.

Syracuse took the lead back a couple minutes later, getting another Boeheim triple, as well as one from Joe Girard III, for a 49-46 edge. The Cavs answered with an 8-1 run for a four-point lead.

Guerrier helped the Orange back in front, scoring twice inside and slipping a pass off an offensive rebound to Dolezaj for an easy lay-in and a 56-54 lead.

Three minutes later, Virginia used an 8-2 burst to grab a 67-61 lead with just over two minutes remaining. SU hung in the game, using just over 30 seconds to get a short jump shot from Boeheim and employing its full-court press to get a steal that led to Guerrier finishing an alley-oop to cut the gap to a deuce.

The Cavaliers answered with two foul shots, but Boeheim matched them to make it a two-point game once more. Syracuse forced a shot clock violation and Boeheim again drew a foul, making both ends of the one-and-one opportunity and tying the game with 28.6 seconds remaining.

The Orange used their last foul with 11 seconds left, but after inbounding the ball, Virginia was able to get Beekman open for the buzzer-beating triple.

» Related: Syracuse needs two ACC Tournament wins says ESPN analyst

Buddy Boeheim set an SU record for points in an ACC Tournament game, knocking Frank Howard’s 28-point effort against Duke in 2019 out of the record books by making five threes en route to a career-high 31 points. Boeheim was on the mark almost all day with 15 points in the opening half and 16 after the break, giving him 58 points in his two tournament games.

Quincy Guerrier had a double-double, finishing with 14 points and ten rebounds. The sophomore did most of his work after the half, collecting nine points and seven boards in the second session. Robert Braswell added ten points, making all four of his shots, including two threes, in the first half.

Sam Hauser had 21 points to pace Virginia, while Trey Murphy III backed him with 15 markers. Each hit three triples on the day, but they needed a combined 21 attempts to get there. Jay Huff was a force inside, finishing with 13 points, 12 rebounds, and four blocks. The Orange did well against him in the second half, holding him scoreless and limiting him to four rebounds in that time. Kihei Clark added ten points for the Cavaliers.

Syracuse will now wait for Sunday to find out their postseason destiny.

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About Jim Stechschulte 686 Articles
A 1996 graduate of Syracuse University, Jim has reported on Syracuse sports for the Syracuse University Alumni Club of Southern California on nearly a decade, where he currently resides. He has also written a fantasy basketball column published by NBA.com. Follow him on Twitter @DSafetyGuy.