CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — It was a rough shooting night for both squads, but the Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team picked up its biggest win of the season at Virginia. The Orange needed extra time to close it out, but a three-point barrage in overtime lifted SU past the Hoos 63-55.
After the opening tip, Syracuse was able to take an early 7-5 lead. An Elijah Hughes tip in got Syracuse on the board. Joe Girard followed up with a triple and a Marek Dolezaj layup inside gave the Orange an early lead.
Neither team got off to an auspicious shooting start, and that would remain for much of the contest as the Virginia defense made it tough on Syracuse and the Hoos had another tough time making shots from deep.
Quincy Guerrier and Howard Washington were the first off the bench for Jim Boeheim. Washington checked in for Joe Girard and got some extended run at point guard. Washington did a good job controlling tempo and taking care of the ball. Hughes also shared duties in bringing the ball up for SU.
Dolezak took a pair of hard falls in the first half, the second of which warranted an official timeout. Syracuse trainer Brad Pike tended to him, but Dolezaj walked to the Syracuse bench on his own, albeit gingerly.
Later in the half, Girard found Hughes on the right wing and the redshirt junior knocked down his second 3 of the half to make it 17-11. Virginia regained momentum thoughafter Jay Huff had a strong rebound and Quincy Guerrier picked up his third foul. Without another forward, Dolezaj was forced back into action after a quick blow.
Virginia struggled shooting the ball from deep, as this 27 percent long-distance shooting team has all season — but Mamadi Diakite looked to exploit the short of the 2-3 zone. He had success there and his front-court counterpart Jay Huff had success on the glass. Both Virginia bigs posted six points at the break.
Still, with Virginia struggling to hit from outside, Syracuse went into the half up 24-20.
Hughes came out of the break and fueled a nice run for Syracuse. He created off the bounce and passed to Sidibe, who finished inside. On the next play he had quick drive and finish in transition to build the Orange lead. After that, Syracuse got out on the break and a raucous Hughes slam that gave Syracuse a 30-23 lead; the dunk and shift in momentum forced Tony Bennett to call timeout.
The tough sledding on offense continued for both teams, but with Huff and Diakite working on the glass, Sidibe picked up an early fourth foul. Dolezaj took the center spot and picked up his fourth shortly thereafter.
Virginia quickly went on an 12-0 run starting on a pair of 3s from Tomas Woldetensae and Braxton Key. A Huff finish at the rim continued the run for Virginia; it also gave Virginia the lead back for the first time of the second half.
While surrendering the lead, Boeheim quickly subbed Dolezaj and Sidibe back in with four fouls, but Virginia was still able to get another pair of buckets to extend the run. Another Huff bucket inside and a Clark finish following a Syracuse turnover, Virginia bolstered its lead to 35-30 and Jim Boeheim called timeout.
After a back and forth down the stretch, Buddy Boeheim got it going after a rough shooting night. He knocked an important three late that gave Syracuse a 43-41 lead. Afterwards, Virginia’s Clark was fouled and he made two free throws to tie the game at 43.
Hughes had a shot late, but it missed and Virginia had the last possession.
Clark had a look at a 3 but it rolled off the iron and sailed toward the sideline. Virginia saved it, but time expired and the game headed to overtime.
Syracuse opened overtime and connected on three straight 3s. Hughes buried the first, then Girard nailed a long-range attempt. Buddy Boeheim joined the 3-point party and connected in transition to build Syracuse’s lead 52-45.
With just over a minute remaining in extra time and the shot clock winding down, a miracle shot from 30-feet fell for Boeheim. Girard greeted him with an open embrace on the other end and Virginia fans filed for the exits.
Girard buried a 3 on the next possession, too. When he did, he glanced to the Syracuse bench and motioned his hand across his neck suggesting the game was over. Free throws closed it out for the Orange the rest of the way and Syracuse earned its biggest win of the season.
Hughes led the way for Syracuse with 18 points and 9 rebounds.
Girard had 19 points and 6 rebounds while Boeheim posted 14 points on 3-10 shooting from distance. The Slovakian Stat Sheet Stuffer had 7 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks.
Syracuse shot 32.8 percent from the floor while Virginia shot 31.8 percent.
Syracuse returns home to take on Boston College on Wednesday. That game tips at 6:30 from the Carrier Dome and will air on the ACCN.