The Syracuse Orange men’s basketball team led the Miami Hurricanes by ten with two minutes and 29 seconds remaining after Buddy Boeheim made a jumpshot. Syracuse looked like it would cruise to victory on Senior Day to get a much-needed win to end the regular season.
The Orange were set to lock up a win to move to 16-15 and preserve Jim Boeheim’s streak of zero losing seasons with a chance to push Syracuse’s 51-year consecutive winning season streak to 52. Instead, the Orange collapsed late, yielding to the Miami full-court press with three turnovers, two missed shots and a crucial missed box out on a Miami free throw in the final minute, falling to 15-16 on the season in the process.
Syracuse will ultimately fall short of breaking UCLA’s record of 54 consecutive winning season from 1949-2002. The Orange run will end at 51 seasons.
Syracuse led by as many as 18 on Saturday and held the lead for 37 out of 40 total minutes, ultimately falling to the Hurricanes in the final minute. That’s epitomized the Syracuse season. The Orange have fought hard—even admirably at various points—but failed to execute late when it mattered most. There’s no denying that Syracuse has struggled to close out games.
Following the defeat, the Syracuse locker room was silent just minutes after the final horn. Players seemed shocked, still mourning the last minute loss and trying to process what had just happened.
“I don’t even know what to say,” Buddy Boeheim surmised. “Just bad execution on our part.”
Emotions were heavy post-game. It was as if Syracuse had lost an NCAA Tournament game. Players mentioned the attempt to get over .500 and struggled to find the words to accurately describe the loss. They were bothered by what had happened — disturbed, even.
“The pressure just got to us,” Jimmy Boeheim said.
“We had control the whole game. I think we were winning the whole game besides the last 30 seconds of the game,” Buddy said.
After an upset fanbase discarded hotdog containers and 16 oz. cans of Labatt Blue Light across the concrete floors of the Carrier Dome, fans retreated from the building.
Jim Boeheim—with shrugs and open palms—tried to explain what went wrong in the storage facility underneath the Syracuse student section. It wasn’t as if Miami only applied pressure in the last minute.
“We handled it well for almost the whole game, really. The end,” Boeheim said, “Joe’s gotta get the ball and try to get it up — which he was trying on that play and he didn’t do it.”
The Orange were of course short-handed without the likes of Jesse Edwards and Benny Williams, both sidelined for the season. One player who would’ve been able to help with Miami’s pressure was unable to participate as he continues to undergo surveillance in concussion protocol.
“Yeah, it hurts,” Boeheim said of not having Symir Torrence. “He would help us.”
Torrence sat on the sidelines with a white polo and a bandage on his forehead after taking a hard fall against Duke last Saturday.
Without relief from the bench, Joe Girard, Buddy and Jimmy Boeheim all played 40 minutes. Cole Swider played 39. Swider took the loss particularly hard, taking blame for throwing the ball into Frank Anselem against the press.
“They started pressuring us and I didn’t handle it well,” Swider said.
In the final minute Charlie Moore and Kam McGusty made plays late to get within striking distance. The Orange were in control for 39 minutes, but besieged by the press with one minute left, Syracuse yielded to the Miami pressure. Back to back turnovers allowed Miami to cut it to one.
“I don’t care what our record it is, what the game was, senior day, whatever,” Buddy continued. “This one hurts. It really does because we were beating them the whole game. We played better than them. They’re a really good team but we outplayed them the whole game.”
It all happened fast. Another Syracuse turnover led to a foul with 14 seconds left. The Orange missed a box out which led to an offensive rebound and put-back by Jordan Miller, which gave Miami the lead at 73-72.
“It’s just closing out games. You can’t keep losing games like that and saying, ‘Oh we could be this and that.’ You gotta win the games.” Buddy said.
With six seconds remaining, Girard missed a jumper and Syracuse was forced to foul Miller. He made a pair and a last second heave by Jimmy Boeheim missed the mark, resulting in Syracuse’s fourth straight loss.
It was a familiar feeling, synonymous with the first meeting at Miami where Syracuse led by 18. Syracuse surrendered the lead rather quickly due to the Hurricane pressure in both games with turnovers being the team’s undoing.
“We lost the game because we couldn’t get the ball up the court. That’s embarrassing. it shouldn’t happen. But we are not good against pressure,” Jim Boeheim finished.