The Syracuse men’s basketball team (16-11, 8-6 ACC) came back from a seven-point deficit with a little more than two minutes remaining in regulation to force overtime, and then cut an eight-point deficit with 40 seconds left in overtime to just two, but ultimately couldn't finish the job, falling to No. 8 Louisville (21-5, 9-4 ACC) 76-72 on Monday night.
"I thought we played as hard as we've ever played", said Orange head coach Jim Boeheim following the loss. "It was an unbelievable battle...We should've been out both times. They just didn't give up. They kept coming back...we did an unbelievable job fighting back."
Louisville looked poised to run away with the game early. Forward Anas Mahmoud connected on a mid-range jumper that saw the Cardinals double Syracuse, 28-14, with 5:54 left in the first half. But the Orange went on an 11-1 run to end the period, pulling to within four, 29-25.
A little more than six minutes into the second half, Syracuse took its first lead of the game, 37-36, on a layup by forward Taurean Thompson, resulting in the more than 25,000 fans in attendance to erupt in a barrage of cheers.
The teams would trade leads until a Donovan Mitchell 3-pointer put the Cardinals up seven with just under four and a half minutes to go, quieting the crowd. However, a late Syracuse run, capped off by a 3-pointer from John Gillon with 36 seconds remaining, tied the game at 58. Gillon managed to connect from the top of the key despite a hand in his face in what would be the final make of regulation.
The Orange had an opportunity to win the game with 9.4 seconds left, but Gillon lost control of the ball while attempting to drive to the basket, giving it to Louisville with 3.6 remaining. A half-court shot by Louisville was no good, forcing the two teams into overtime.
Syracuse initially took a 61-58 lead in overtime after a quick layup and made free throw from Andrew White III. However, the Orange failed to make another field goal until the period's final 36 seconds, allowing Louisville to go on a 13-2 run. After a made free throw by Mahamoud gave the Cardinals a 71-63 lead with 45 seconds left, Orange fans started to head for the exits.
But then another SU comeback ensued, capped off by three free throws from White, pulling the Orange to within two with 12 seconds on the clock. The Orange intentionally fouled Mahmoud, who missed both of his free throws. Syracuse, however, failed to capitalize on the opportunity, as White missed a 3-pointer and Tyler Roberson grabbed the ensuing offensive rebound only to miss both of his free throws. The game clock ultimately expired following two free throws from Louisville's Ryan McMahon.
"You can't put yourself in those situations and expect to come out with a win", said White after the game. "We never gave up on the game, not 'till the last second...None of us are giving up. We’ve got a lot of older guys, it's our last run.”
After a six-day break, Syracuse will return to action at Georgia Tech. Tip-off is set for 6:30 p.m. at the McCamish Pavilion.