Orangemen Outlast Wildcats

Coach Jim Boeheim thinks his Syracuse team has plenty of heart and doesn't understand why the media questioned it earlier in the season. Down by one to Villanova on Big Monday, after letting the lead they held the entire game slip away, the Orangemen went on a 10-0 run to outlast the Wildcats, 64-59, in a defensive struggle.

"You can measure heart when a team is in a battle in two games (Georgetown and Villanova) and win both times," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said.

The Orangemen (18-6, 8-5) trailed 29-28 early in the second half before taking control and going on a 13-3 run.

Trailing 43-33, the Wildcats (14-12, 6-7) showed some heart themselves.

Randy Foye, who finished with eight points, hit a 3-pointer from the right corner, Jason Fraser converted a fast-break dunk and Allan Ray hit a triple after stealing an inbounds pass as Villanova rallied to take a 49-48 lead with 4:50 to go.

Josh Pace then drove the lane and hit a shot off the glass to give Syracuse the lead, and the Orangemen never trailed again.

Louie McCroskey, who tied a career-high with 10 points, hit an open 3-pointer from the right wing to extend the Orangemen's lead to 57-49 at 2:33 before the Wildcats inched back to within three.

"Louie made huge shots," Boeheim said. "And then at the end of the game we got the ball to the right guy."

With the score 60-57, McNamara sank four free throws, with a Villanova lay-up in between them, to secure the win for the Orangemen.

Both teams played physical and forced turnovers and bad shots, surprising from the second and fourth best offenses in the BIG EAST. Syracuse turned the ball over 17 times and shot 39.6 percent for the game. Villanova shots 37.3 percent and turned the ball over 22 times. The Wildcats are now 0-7 in BIG EAST play when they shoot under 50 percent.

Syracuse, meanwhile, got a much-needed boost from McCroskey and Josh Pace. Pace ran the point in the second half to take pressure off of McNamara. He finished with 14 points and five rebounds.

"I wanted Gerry to have something left at the end," Boeheim said, "And I thought Josh did a god job distributing the ball."

G-Mac and Warrick struggled from the field, combining for 36 points on 7-of-20 shooting, but they connected on 21-of-24 free throws to put points on the board. McNamara added four assists and Warrick grabbed nine rebounds.

Curtis Sumpter led Villanova with 12 points and 10 boards. Fraser and Ray added 10 a piece.

"It was a typical game for us," Villanova coach Jay Wright said. "We had our opportunities and didn't take advantage of it."

Syracuse has now won three of four while Villanova has dropped four of its last five.

The Orangemen play at No. 5/4 Pittsburgh (24-2, 10-2) on Sunday where the Panthers have won a 40 straight games, tops in the nation.

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