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Bryant 73, Syracuse 72: Orange fall to Bulldogs on last second shot

Syracuse to the Sweet 16, confirmed.

Bryant v Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team fell to 3-3 on the season after losing to the Bryant Bulldogs 73-72 on a game-winning shot by Sherif Gross-Bullock.

Syracuse came out sluggish offensively—a harbinger of how this matchup would play out—as Judah Mintz missed his first three shots of the game. Bryant mounted an early 4-0 lead, causing Jim Boeheim to call timeout just over two minutes in as Symir Torrence made an early substitution.

Shortly after, back to back threes from Chris Bell and Joe Girard got Syracuse on the board and tied the game at six. Syracuse went to the bench early with Maliq Brown and John Bol Ajak. Boeheim played 11 of his 12 scholarship players in the first half. Mounir Hima was the only scholarship player who didn’t see the floor.

Stymied by a determined Bryant squad, the Syracuse offense struggled for much of the first half, shooting just 3-15 through the first eight minutes. Bryant worked up to a 20-13 lead at that point.

With under eight minutes to go and the atmosphere turning chippy, Mintz drove and was whistled for an offensive foul. Doug Edert then pushed Mintz, only for Mintz to proceed by slapping Doug Edert in the face. Edert retaliated with a smack to Mintz from behind. John Bol Ajak took exception to the play, rushing over to a group of Bryant players as tempers flared on both sides.

Boeheim had to walk Bol Ajak back to the bench.

Both Mintz and Edert were given technical fouls and ejected from the game. Bryant’s Tyler Brelsford and Kyvonn Cramer were also ejected from the game for leaving their team bench. Coaches from both sides were ejected too, for leaving the team bench.

The ejections seemed to galvanize a sparse orange crowd with chants of “Let’s go, Orange!” breaking out throughout the JMA Wireless Dome. Justin Taylor responded by hitting an open three to get the game within five. But whatever initial momentum went Syracuse’s way quickly dissipated.

Jesse Edwards was reinserted to the game and immediately picked up his second foul, which caused Boeheim to put his hands in his face and put Carey back in at center. Then Bryant’s Antoine Walker and Miles Latimer ripped off a 10-0 run to create separation.

Just prior to the break, Bryant’s Sherif Gross-Bullock nailed a shot just before the halftime buzzer as the Bulldogs went into the break with a 40-29 lead.

NCAA Basketball: Bryant at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

After the break, two consecutive three point plays by Torrence and Edwards got the game to within three possessions. Another bucket from Edwards got Syracuse to within five. But Bryant responded by ripping off a 15-2 run to take a 52-39 lead at the first media timeout of the second half.

Syracuse wouldn’t go quietly into the night, however, as the Orange strung stops together and managed to get enough offense to make things interesting. Justin Taylor found his groove in the second half, scoring six of eight Syracuse points in one stretch to help get the Orange back to within four with 7:28 left in the game.

The Syracuse freshmen forwards led the way through crunch time. A mid-range jumper by Bell got Syracuse to within two at the 5:17 mark. Bryant responded with a three point play, but another Taylor three got Syracuse to within one with 4:16 to play.

Later, Jesse Edwards gave Syracuse the first lead of the game with a putback, but Bryant’s Earl Timberlake responded with a bucket and a foul to put Bryant back up 63-61. Edwards fouled out with 12 points and 21 rebounds.

Bell once again answered the call as another mid-range jumper by him got Syracuse back to within two. Then he followed it up a triple. Antoine Walker picked up his fifth foul on Justin Taylor and Bryant was also assessed a technical foul. Taylor made three out of four from the line to put Syracuse up 69-67 with 50 seconds left.

After a pair of Timberlake free throws, a late steal by Gross-Bullock put Bryant up 71-69. Taylor was then fouled a split a pair at the line. With Bryant leading 71-70, Gross-Bullock was fouled and missed both from the stripe.

Bryant then fouled Joe Girard with eight seconds left. He made both to put Syracuse back on top 72-71. But with the game coming down to the wire, Gross-Bullock drove the length of the floor and put up a floater that found a friendly roll to give Bryant the game 73-72.

Syracuse had one last play with 0.8 seconds left, but a full court pass to Bol Ajak was mishandled and the Orange fell to 3-3 on the season.

Next up

Syracuse hits the road to take on No. 16 Illinois on Tuesday. That game tips from the State Farm Center at 7:30 p.m. and airs on ESPN.