Syracuse-WVU: The OT Orange Still Winning on Fumes

Matt ReaganCorrespondent IMarch 14, 2009

NEW YORK: The Syracuse Orange dug deep and somehow found the strength to beat the West Virginia Mountaineers 74-69 in OT.

After regulation ended the Orange would only need an extra five minutes to finish off West Virginia, not the extra 30 minites it took them to beat UConn less than 24 hours before.

Many people questioned whether the Orange would have anything left in the tank after their epic six-overtime win over UConn, which lasted three hours and 46 minutes.

Well, the tank appeared not to be totally empty but the red warning light was definitely on.

Somehow, the Orange dug deep and played inspired ball throughout the game, and if they were tired, they must have been great actors.

The game would seesaw between the two teams, as neither team led by more than 10 points in the first half. 

Syracuse found themselves leading by seven points with 22 seconds left following an Andy Rautins three pointer.

WVU came right back with a three of their own from Darryl Bryant. His shot cut the lead back down to four and left only three seconds remaining.

Last night's almost hero, Eric Devendorf, then took a long inbounds pass and drained a 65-foot shot at the buzzer. This time there was no question if he got it off in time and the Orange went into the break up 36-29.

The second half played much like the first, with both teams jockeying for leads.

WVU opened the scoring and erased the Orange's seven-point lead with a 13-2 run that left them up four.

For the rest of the half, the two teams stayed neck-and-neck, and the Orange had a two-point lead with five seconds remaining.

After fouling Devin Ebanks he went to the line and knocked down both shots, sending the game into overtime at 63.

In overtime, the Orange wasted no time looking to get that lead they couldn't against UConn and Paul Harris scored on a lay-up seconds in.

With Syracuse clinging to a three-point lead with seven seconds left, WVU's Bryant attempted a game-tying three that was blocked by Devendorf.

Flynn grabbed the loose ball and found the streaking Devendorf all alone for a lay-up that would give them a five-point lead, but more importantly, the win.

Syracuse once again was led by the masterful court general Jonny Flynn, who scored 15 points and dished out 11 assists.

Flynn's back court teammate, Eric Devendorf, also played huge, scoring 23 points on 4-of-8 shooting from behind the three-point line.

Reserve forward Kristof Ongenaet continued to be the Orange glue that held it together and contributed six points, 10 rebounds, four steals, three assists, and even a block for good measure.

WVU was led by freshman PF Devin Ebanks, who scored 22 points to go with six rebounds.

DA Sean Butler also had a great game for West Virginia and finished with 21 points and six rebounds.

With the win, Syracuse improves to 26-8 and has won seven consecutive Big East games.

Up next for the Orange are the 27-5 regular season champion Louisville Cardinals at 9 p.m. Saturday night on ESPN.

This has the makings of a nightmare game for the Orange, because of the Cardinals' obsession with constant full-court pressure.

Not many people besides myself predicted that the Orange would make it this far.

With the seven overtime periods, they have played in the the last two nights, they are five minutes short of playing an extra game altogether.

So I would guess that even fewer people will pick them to beat Louisville on Thursday.

I will be one of those people, because this team is a team of destiny.

And I might just find some company from a certain group of UConn Huskies.


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