CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Joe Girard remembers the 3-pointer that Oakland made against the Syracuse Orange from beyond half court in the Carrier Dome on Dec. 18. So does Elijah Hughes and so does Jim Boeheim. So when Buddy Boeheim made his one-handed heave from over 35-feet against Virginia, Girard thought it was Syracuse’s way of giving back.
Syracuse was holding onto a 54-49 lead over Virginia in overtime with possession when the shot-clock starting to creep towards zero. Girard had the ball in his hands and Kihei Clark in his shorts opposite the Syracuse bench while Hughes and the younger Boeheim were adjacent on the near side.
“Go get it! Go get it!” Boeheim instructed Hughes.
Hughes tried to create a passing angle where he could collect the pass and make a play for his team. But as Girard passed the ball cross-court to Hughes, Buddy intercepted the ball near mid-court.
“Me and Elijah were exchanging. Joe kind of just threw it over and thought Elijah was staying up,” Buddy said. “I just got it with one hand, close to the half-court line. I thought (with) four seconds left I could take two dribbles or so and try to get a shot up and use my momentum to the basket and hope it hits the rim so we can get a rebound or something.”
Boeheim tossed a heave from beyond 35 feet. The ball seemingly hung in the air for a lifetime as it sailed toward the rim.
Buddy thought it was long based on his release but the shot was on line. After a few seconds of hang-time, the ball hit the glass and fell through the bottom of the net, much to everyone’s surprise. Even Buddy was in disbelief.
“I looked at it, I knew it was going to be long because it just came off my hand like that. I thought it was on line and when I saw it bank in I didn’t even believe it at first. It was like everyone erupted, Joe tackled me.”
The heave that fell through gave Syracuse a 57-49 lead with just over a minute remaining in extra time. In a game where scoring was scarce for both teams, that bucket all but sealed the deal for Syracuse.
Virginia coach Tony Bennett asked Jim Boeheim about it after the game.
“I shook Coach Boeheim’s hand and asked him, ‘Did you teach your son how to make that fall-away 3-pointer?’ Like a typical father he said, ‘Well, he missed a lot of shots though.’ That’s something my pops would probably say too in the same spot,” Bennett said.
“We got one lucky one,” Jim Boeheim said post-game. “That’s OK. Sometimes you need to get a little bit lucky. We’ve had a couple go in against us this year so we’ll take that.”
On the court, Girard knew how big of a play it was. He sprinted down to the other end of the court and grabbed Buddy with two arms wrapped tightly around him like a boa constrictor. It was the biggest moment of the game shared between the two Upstate New York kids.
“Let’s go, Bud!” Girard exclaimed.
Girard said that there were probably a few explicit words mixed into that statement.
“You know Joe,” Buddy began. “He leaves his passion on the court. You love having a guy like that.”
All Buddy could do was smile, put his arms up and shrug. After Girard’s embrace, he had a succinct response to his backcourt counterpart.
“Let’s go home. Let’s go home,” Boeheim said to Girard.
Syracuse went home with its best win of the season.
Buddy Boeheim after Syracuse’s 63-55 win at Virginia. pic.twitter.com/39PMAW0P8X— James Szuba (@JamesSzuba) January 12, 2020