Boston College travelled to the Carrier Dome on Wednesday night and upset No. 1 ranked, undefeated Syracuse. After trailing 25-17 at the half, the Eagles (7-19, 3-10 Atlantic Coast Conference) were down by as many as 13 points in the second half before rallying to send the game into overtime.
Syracuse (25-1, 12-1 ACC) entered the game undefeated, winning its previous two games against Pittsburgh and NC State by a combined three points. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim remarked after the game that if a team gets into enough of these tight games, eventually they would end up on the losing end.
The game consisted of the two sides playing out of character. The Orange shot just 32.2 percent from the field, after averaging 44.8 over the course of the season, and Eagles’ guard Lonnie Jackson hit four straight free throws in the final 26.2 seconds to seal the victory after previously shooting 9-16 in ACC league play.
Syracuse started the game missing its first seven shots. After two 3-pointers from Jackson, the Eagles led 7-2. Forward C.J. Fair, who scored the Orange’s first four points at the free throw line, got the team’s first basket at the 14:19 mark.
From there Syracuse built its lead until Boston College went on a 21-8 run in the second half, capped off by a Ryan Anderson layup that tied it at 41 with 8:15 to go.
Jerami Grant hit a shot for the Orange that gave them a 50-48 lead with just over a minute remaining in regulation but Oliver Hanlan tied it with a layup 30 seconds later. Rakeem Christmas missed a hook shot as time expired and the game went into overtime.
In overtime, Boston College continued its outside attack of the Syracuse zone with 3-pointers from Hanlan and Patrick Heckmann, giving the Eagles a 56-52 lead with 2:56 left. Freshman Tyler Ennis tied the game with 2:08 to play and hit a free throw to give the Orange a one-point lead with 1:12 remaining.
Heckmann responded with a layup and Jackson closed out the game with his clutch free throws to give Boston College the upset over Syracuse.
After a disappointing season, the Eagles showed up Wednesday night to play. Despite shooting 11-22 from beyond the arc, Anderson attributed the win to someone off the court. During the end of the game, he thought, “DK is looking down on us. He’s got us.”
The Eagles players have been wearing a DK patch on their uniforms ever since last Thursday, when longtime Sports Information Director, Dick Kelley, died of ALS.
After the game, former players and fans tweeted tributes to Kelley and Boston College Communications Director Chris Cameron wrote in an email, “I know who the happiest man in heaven is tonight.”
Boston College certainly needed the boost against Syracuse, as they had won just two games in their last 14 and prior to Wednesday’s matchup, ESPN estimated that Syracuse had a 99 percent chance of winning the game. Syracuse will next play No. 5 Duke on Saturday, a rematch of an instant classic from earlier in the season.
Boston College’s upset of Syracuse leaves No. 3 Wichita State (28-0) as the only unbeaten team in Division I.
By David Tulis