Greensboro, N.C. —Syracuse’s fairy tale run in the ACC Tournament came to a screeching halt on Thursday afternoon at the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, falling to top-seed Virginia 72-69 at the buzzer.
With the game tied at 69, UVA freshman Reece Beekman who hadn’t made a shot all game long hit a three from the wing as time expired, propelling the Cavaliers to the win over the Orange.
Beekman had made only 8 of 31 3s (25.8%) all season entering Thursday’s contest. He just set his feet and fired from the wings.
“I was just thinking: It’s a big shot,” Beekman said. “My coaches, everybody believed in me, so they wouldn’t have me out there for no reason.”
The Orangemen set the tone early on in the game. Cuse jumped out to a 24-14 lead ten minutes of play. Buddy Boeheim and Robert Braswell combined for 25 in the first half, giving SU a 39-36 lead heading into the break.
The Cavaliers made some halftime adjustments on defense, opening the second half on an 8-2 run to take a 44-41 advantage. Both teams went back and forth down the stretch. With two minutes to play, the Orangemen were down by six (67-61). Boeheim’s two free throws tied the game at 69, before Beekman’s game winning buzzer-beater.
Buddy Boeheim scored a career-high 31 points, finishing 10-for-17 from the floor. Quincy Guerrier posted his eighth double-double of the season, scored 14 points and collected 10 boards.
Virginia was led by Sam Hauser who scored 21 points. He was one of four Cavaliers in double figures.
Syracuse’s three-game winning streak was snapped, falling to 16-9 this season. The Orange will have to wait to see if they will make it to the big dance. The Selection Show is set for Sunday.
“Beekman’s the one guy we want to shoot it there,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “We don’t want to give anybody a shot, but he’s the one guy we want to shoot it. That’s the way it goes. He knocked it down.”
After Beekman’s shot went through the cotton, the Orange coach’s son stood near midcourt, hands on his knees in disbelief, while teammate Quincy Guerrier knelt down a few feet away.
“That’s what March is,” said teammate Sam Hauser, who confidently pumped his arms in the air signaling the 3 would be good as Beekman hit the winner.
Beekman was 0 for 5 from the field when Kihei Clark penetrated to the left elbow and then whipped the ball to Beekman waiting on the right wing for the shot. He launched a catch-and-shoot trey with the horn sounding as the ball hit the high point of its arc before falling through the nets for the top-seeded Cavaliers (18-6), who advanced to face the fourth-seeded Georgia Tech in Friday’s semifinals.
Syracuse: The Orange entered the week near the edge in most NCAA projections, though a win against fellow bubble team North Carolina State on Wednesday helped their cause. Afterward, Jim Boeheim said he thought the Orange “did what we needed to do this year” but with a wait-and-see attitude. Winning this one would have eliminated all doubts to the NCAA committee.
“It’s not up to me,” Boeheim said, adding: “There’s no doubt in my mind, and I don’t think anybody’s mind that follows the sport and knows what they’re doing.”
Virginia: The Cavaliers had won the regular-season race by beating the Louisville Cardinals after No. 15 Florida State lost at Notre Dame on the final day of the season. That gave Virginia the No. 1 seed for the fifth time in eight seasons as they chase a third tournament title under coach Tony Bennett. They had to rally from 11 down in the first half to advance.
“We survived,” Bennett said.
Syracuse: The Orange await their NCAA Tournament fate on Selection Sunday.
Virginia: The Cavaliers face Georgia Tech on Friday.