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Pitt 72 - Syracuse 71: Late Comback Falls Short, NCAA Bid in Jeopardy

Despite a furious comeback in the final minutes, the Orange lose in their first game of the ACC Tournament.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange desperately needed one more win to feel better about their chances of getting into the NCAA Tournament. They did not get it done, losing 72-71 to the Pittsburgh Panters on the second day of the 2016 ACC Tournament.

It was a strange game throughout. First, there were the shot-clock issues, causing the game to have several stoppages within the first two-plus minutes of play. It corresponded well with the lack of production on both ends, as neither team seemed to be able to score. After the Verizon Center staff was able to install temporary clocks, Malachi Richardson finally got the scoring going with an easy layup. The defense for Syracuse looked really good to start, causing five Pitt turnovers before eight minutes had gone by. Rebounding for the Orange also seemed to be back-on-track as the team cruised to a ten-point lead at the seven-minute mark in the half. DaJuan Coleman had six of those boards.

The lead didn't last very long for Syracuse as Pitt climbed back into it with 20 points off the bench. The Panthers went on a 19-7 run to close the half.

Of all players, Coleman got the first bucket for the Orange of the second half. The Panthers expanded their lead, thanks to several three-pointers and shots that were well-defended but still went in. Once Syracuse was down 14 points, it seemed like they had lost all of the momentum. Their play was lack-luster and it looked as though they would rather play in the NIT than the NCAA Tournament, aside from Michael Gbinije, who scored 24 points.

The Orange were not done yet, though, as they were able to widdle the Panther's lead down to five points with about six-and-a-half minutes to play. Pitt grew the lead to 12 again, but, with their backs against the wall and time drawing to a close fast, they tied the game back up with about 1:40 left on the game clock. After exchanging foul shots, the Orange had a chance to win the game with 6.6 seconds, down by one point. The ball was inbounded to Trevor Cooney, who had been sitting on the bench for the past ten minutes of game time. He dribbled it past mid-court, looked around, took it to just behind the arc and let it fly, only to watch it carom off of the backboard and into the stands as the clock hit zero.

Cameron Johnson scored a career-high 24 points for Pittsburgh, leading the pack. Ryan Luther added 13 while James Robinson and Jamel Artis had 12 and 10, respectively. For Syracuse Gbinije led the way. Richardson had 13 and Coleman rounded up the top-scoring with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Syracuse will wait until Sunday night to hear of it's postseason fate. It looks more likely that the team will be headed to the NIT after this disappointing result.