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Top Carrier Dome moments: Syracuse men’s basketball

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41 straight winning years were packed full of iconic games

Georgetown v Syracuse Photo by Nate Shron/Getty Images

It’s the final week of the Syracuse Orange hosting events in the building currently known as the Carrier Dome. All this week, we’re looking back at some of the top moments in the Dome’s history. We started with football yesterday. Today’s sport is the one most commonly associated with the Syracuse landmark - men’s basketball.

Pearl’s Half-Court Winner

The 1983-84 Orange were on a roll heading into this matchup with #16 Boston College. They were undefeated (5-0) in Big East play and had won six of their last seven. This one came down to the wire, and after a missed BC free throw that would’ve given the Eagles the lead, Pearl Washington drilled this shot to win it and took off straight down the tunnel.

Dome Defended from Defending Champs

In one of many classics between Syracuse and Georgetown, the #2 Hoyas came into the Dome after besting Houston the previous March to win a title. That didn’t intimidate #9 SU at all, as a crowd of over 32,000 strong rushed the court after Michael Jackson couldn’t tie things up on the final shot. That crowd I mentioned? It was huge for the time but doesn’t even crack the Top 20 in attendance now. Crazy to think about.

McNeil and Man-D Cause a Rally

Fast forward to after the turn of the century (where there somehow aren’t any video highlights?) Another #2 team made its way to Central New York: the Pittsburgh Panthers. And Pitt seemed to have full control of the game, going into halftime with a 12-point lead. That changed when Coach Boeheim dropped his patented 2-3 zone for man-to-man defense. The switch worked, as Cuse clawed back into the game and held on for a 67-65 win on the back of Jeremy McNeil and his spot-on foul shooting.

(Ed. note - this game featured the rare double court-rushing as well. Just a wild finish)

21-0!

The best start in program history, in a new conference, about to be challenged by the creme de le creme of said ACC in Duke? That all set the table for this one, and boy did it not disappoint. A slim halftime lead vanished in the final seconds as Syracuse was on the wrong side of a buzzer-beater. Thankfully, Rasheed Sulaimon’s three only tied the game and forced overtime. In OT, lightning did not strike twice as Jerami Grant took control of the Orange offense and Quinn Cook missed his own buzzer-beater attempt to keep the streak alive. Oh what this team could’ve been...

Gillon’s Buzzer-Beater

My final entry is proof that anyone or any team can win on any given day. While the Orange were ranked in the other situations, here they were a team barely above .500 against a Top 10 team. But as Harrison Ford once said, “Never tell me the odds.” The traditional back and forth battle once again came down to the very end. A miss from Duke gave SU one last chance in regulation, and John Gillon beat the clock and buried a dagger from the center of the arc. Dickie V, the man was indeed serious with this shot:

Honorable Mentions:

  • 1981 Big East Tournament - The Dome Court Advantage was on full display as Cuse outlasted Villanova in 3OT to win the Conference Championship Game. Leo Rautins took home Tournament MVP.
  • First win against a ranked foe, 1982 - The #8 Hoyas were taken down 75-70 in the first major upset in Dome history.
  • Starting on top vs. Duke, 1989 - In the first meeting between the sport’s two winningest head coaches, Jim Boeheim’s #1 ranked team downed Coach K and the #6 Blue Devils 78-76.
  • On-campus attendance record (35,642) vs. Duke, 2019 - Records are made to be broken, but I don’t think anybody will touch this one anytime soon
  • On-campus student section attendance record (8,335) vs Duke, 2021 - Yes, the game itself was awful, but I’m biased since I was a part of that number.

Do you agree with these picks? Or are we missing something? Be sure to tell us your favorites down in the comments.