PHILADELPHIA – After a last minute three-pointer forced the game into overtime, the #t3/4 Orange (18-2, 6-1) could not pull away with a win, falling to Villanova (13-7, 4-3) in a tough 75-71 decision on the road at the Wells Fargo Center.
SU found itself trailing by four at 69-65 following back-to-back threes from Villanova's James Bell, with 1:52 remaining in the overtime period. Senior Brandon Triche responded with two free throws to put SU within two points of the lead at 69-67 before he returned to the line with 46.5 seconds remaining, but converted on only one-of-two shots.
A layup from Bell extended the Wildcat lead to three points at 73-68, before sophomore Michael Carter Williams also connected on just one-of-two free throws with 21 seconds remaining. With Syracuse still behind 71-69, the Orange ran out of time as Nova remained consistent from the charity stripe out and the crowd flooded the court.
Four Orange recorded double figures in scoring, led by Triche, who tallied 23 points, including 12 points in the second half, after being held to just six in the first half. Carter-Williams totaled 17 points, while junior C.J. Fair posted 10 points, grabbing nine rebounds. Freshman Jerami Grant recorded 12 points, including nine in the second half, before being sent off the court after committing his fifth foul.
Sophomore Rakeem Christmas recorded a team-high 12 boards, after entering the intermission as the leading scorer with seven points
The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead, helped out by a 10-0 run led by Villanova's Darrun Hilliard, who posted seven points during the streak. The Orange responded with a 7-0 run to settle the score at 10-7 with 14:59 remaining in the opening frame.
Down by as much as 12 points, Villanova took its largest lead of the half with 7:38 remaining in the half before the Orange rebounded from its biggest deficit of the season, with an 8-0 spurt to slash the Wildcat lead at 27-21.Syracuse couldn't pull away though, entering the break trailing at 32-24.
Grant opened the second half with seven straight points to give Syracuse its first lead of the game at 33-32. As the Wildcats continued to fight, Triche drained a three-pointer to put Syracuse ahead by one at 40-39 as SU cruised ahead by five points at 44-39 with 12:43 remaining in the second period.
With the score tied at 52-52 with 6:36 remaining in the game, the Orange used a 7-0 run led by Triche, who connected on a three ball and a bucket to extend the SU advantage to six points at 59-53 with 4:06 left to play.
Syracuse entered the final few minutes clinging to a three-point lead, as Bell missed his three-point attempt. Unable to grab the rebound, Villanova's Mouphtaou Yarou found Ryan Arcidiacono, who connected on a three with two seconds remaining in the game, forcing overtime at 61-61.
Hilliard paced the Wildcats with a team-high 25 points, while Yarou notched a double-double with 14 points and 16 rebounds.
The Orange will continue its road trip this week, traveling to Pittsburgh to face the Panthers on Saturday, Feb. 2 at noon.