On Saturday, with West Virginia and the Orange (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 3 AP)
clawing for a victory and the score tied 61-all with 88 seconds
left, Triche swished a pair of free throws -- his only attempts of
the game -- and Syracuse held on for a 63-61 victory.
"It just happened to be me tonight," said Triche, who led the
Orange with 18 points. "We showed heart, mental toughness."
After Triche's free throws -- he's 38 of 44 on the season -- the
Mountaineers missed four straight shots, including an airball 3 by
Darryl "Truck" Bryant and an attempt on the follow by Deniz Kilicli, who caught the ball under the basket. Playing with four
fouls, Syracuse center Baye Keita helped deny Kilicli's shot and
appeared to get away with goaltending that wasn't called.
"We did pretty good as a team," said the 6-foot-11 Keita, who
matched his season high by playing 25 minutes in the absence of
starting center Fab Melo and registered three blocks and four
points. "I'm just supposed to try to block those shots. Luckily, I
got it and the ref missed it (the goaltending call). I don't know
if that's a goaltending or a block."
It was goaltending in the mind of West Virginia coach Bob
"Do I think it was? No. I know it was. I saw the replay,"
Huggins said. "It's hard. You've got 30 seconds and you're trying
to get them refocused and they're all thinking about other
A Big East official told ESPN.com's Andy Katz that the conference would not comment on the call, as to not set a precedent for future controversial calls.
Kris Joseph snared the crucial rebound for Syracuse but lost the
ball out of bounds with 6.2 seconds left, prompting a tirade from
coach Jim Boeheim and giving West Virginia one last shot. Unable to
drive the lane as planned, Jabarie Hinds passed to Kevin Jones in
the left corner as C.J. Fair stormed at him, and his desperation 3
at the buzzer fell short.
"We beat ourselves," Gary Browne said. "We've dug ourselves
in a hole where we aren't supposed to be. We feel hurt right now.
This loss hurt us a lot."
Syracuse won its second straight since a loss at Notre Dame and
did so despite being hammered 41-20 on the boards, 24-9 in the
second half, and missing 16 of 20 3-point attempts. Still, there
was a battle for every loose ball under the baskets and the
Mountaineers only finished with a 13-8 edge on second-chance
points, not much to show for a 19-5 edge on the offensive glass.
"This was one of those games where if you don't make shots,
it's going to come down to who makes a play at the end," Boeheim
Syracuse (22-1, 9-1 Big East) has won 13 of the past 14 games
against West Virginia (15-7, 5-4). The win was the 878th for
Boeheim, moving him within one of tying former North Carolina coach
Dean Smith for third in Division I history.
The 7-foot center, who leads the Big East in blocks, watched the
game from the bench in street clothes, shouting encouragement at
his teammates. After starting the first 20 games of the season and
becoming a force in the paint, the big Brazilian has not played
since logging 29 minutes in a home win over Pitt nearly two weeks
ago. Melo is ineligible because of academic issues but has been
practicing with the team, and Boeheim is hopeful he'll be able to
return to the lineup.
Jones led West Virginia with 20 points and eight rebounds.
Bryant had 12 points, all in the second half, and Browne scored 11.
The Mountaineers were coming off a 78-62 loss at St. John's on
Wednesday night, a game in which the Red Storm started five
freshmen, but they led most of the first half in this one and never
trailed by more than three points in the final 17 minutes.
Syracuse led by four to start the second half and made it 33-27
on Triche's steal and layup with 18:57 to go. After that, it was
anybody's game. The score was tied seven times, the last when Jones
hit a 3 from the left corner to knot it at 61 with 1:41 left.
"They do a great job of playing defense," Joseph said. "We
found ways around that at the end. We did what we needed to."
The Orange were hampered by fouls to their big men. Keita picked
up his fourth midway through the half and 6-9 freshman Rakeem
Christmas fouled out with 4:58 to go.
Syracuse trailed most of the first half as the Mountaineers
patiently attacked the 2-3 zone. Jones started the game by hitting
consecutive mid-range jumpers from the heart of the Syracuse
The Mountaineers led by six three times, the last at 22-16 after
a 3-pointer by Jones from the left wing with 7:34 left, but they
converted only one other basket in the closing minutes -- a runner
by Hinds -- as Syracuse increased the defensive intensity with a
The Orange forced shot-clock violations on consecutive
possessions in the final 3 minutes and Joseph's baseline drive and
layup gave Syracuse a 25-24 lead with 68 seconds left, just the
Orange's second lead of the half.
Waiters fed Jardine for a wide-open 3 from the right corner with
3.2 seconds left to give Syracuse a 28-24 halftime lead. It was
just the second make in 11 tries from behind the arc for the
Orange, who have struggled from long range in conference play,
shooting 25 percent in the past six games.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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