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MBB : CLOSING OUT: Tight defense in final moments helps Syracuse to win over West Virginia

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Published on January 27, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: [email protected] | @mark_cooperjrcenter_img Deniz Kilicli positioned himself perfectly to tie the game. And he very well may have.As Darryl Bryant’s go-ahead 3-point attempt fell short, the West Virginia center corralled the rebound. Basket in sight, he went back up with eight seconds to go, down two. From the other side of the hoop, Syracuse center Baye Keita, in desperation, flew up to tip the ball away — after it had already hit the backboard.Yet there was no whistle for goaltending. Kilicli threw his hands up in bewilderment, but nothing changed. West Virginia remained in position for the final six seconds after the ball went out of bounds, but it could no longer make the desired effort to tie or win the game.‘It’s hard to get them back refocused after that happened,’ WVU head coach Bob Huggins said.‘Did I think it was (goaltending)? No. No, I know it was. I just saw the replay.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe controversial call amplified the tension between Syracuse and West Virginia in Saturday’s final moments. Following the block, Kris Joseph lost the ball out of bounds, giving the Mountaineers one more chance to tie or win the game. But Huggins said he wasn’t even sure if WVU ran exactly what he wanted, with the team in a state of confusion and exasperation following the missed call. Kevin Jones’ fadeaway 3-point attempt as the game ended clanked off the back of the rim, and No. 3 Syracuse hung on for a 63-61 win over WVU in front of 28,740 in the Carrier Dome on Saturday.The Mountaineers (15-7, 5-4 Big East) put on a display on the boards, outrebounding SU 41-20, but the Orange (22-1, 9-1) did just enough to hang on for its second straight win, challenging all three shots WVU took in the final seconds.‘I think we handled it well,’ Brandon Triche said. ‘We won, that’s all that counts.’Syracuse forced 17 turnovers, but WVU’s plus-21 rebounding margin allowed the Mountaineers to stay in it. Neither team led by more than six the whole way. For the final 11:08, no lead swelled larger than three.Triche drew a foul in the lane and made a pair of free throws, putting SU up 63-61 with 1:28 to go. Less than a minute later, Dion Waiters missed a floater with a chance to make it a two-possession game. Kilicli rebounded the ball, and Huggins called a timeout with 26.5 seconds left.On the ensuing possession, Gary Browne found Bryant on the left wing. Bryant — who scored all 12 of his points in the second half — had Triche in his face, but he fired the shot from right next to the WVU bench with eight seconds left.The 6-foot-9, 260-pound Kilicli anticipated the shot falling short and boxed out and manhandled Joseph — who at 50 pounds lighter looked petite in comparison — to engulf the rebound.The replay showed Kilicli’s shot hitting glass, then Keita’s right hand, then the glass again. Goaltending.‘Every time I go block a shot I think positively,’ said Keita, who played the final 4:58 with four fouls after entering for Rakeem Christmas, who fouled out. ‘If I get a piece of it, that’s a block. If you call goaltending, that’s goaltending.‘So I went for it and that’s when he called a block, so I can’t say nothing about it.’The whistles remained silent to the chagrin of WVU’s players and coaches. Kilicli looked mortified as he backed up the court, hands raised in disbelief.Keita came down with the rebound and the game, for a moment, seemed to be in hand for SU. He took one dribble and handed off to Joseph — a 78 percent free-throw shooter.But the senior forward never caught the ball. It deflected off his hands, off his legs and out of bounds with six seconds left.‘(Joseph) just has to hold the ball and the game’s over,’ SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. ‘I don’t know what he was thinking about.’New life for West Virginia. Huggins called timeout, but the tension of the moments before may have been an untimely distraction.Meanwhile, after feeling like it had just won the game, save for a mishandled pass, Syracuse had to make another stop.‘You just don’t want them to get any 3s,’ Joseph said. ‘If anything, we were going to take overtime, so we didn’t want them to finish the game out, and that was basically the message that was given to us.’The inbounds went to Kilicli inside, and he quickly fed Jabarie Hinds on the perimeter. Hinds — just like Huggins said he wanted — drove toward the hoop, hoping to draw the defense in so he could dish to Jones.But SU forward C.J. Fair didn’t bite. He stayed out on Jones and contested the fall-away 3, watching it hit the rim as SU survived the battle — thanks in part to a favorable call at the rim seconds earlier.‘If (Hinds) would have faked, then he would have got me,’ Fair said. ‘But luckily I got the — I don’t know how much my play affected the shot or not, but I was there.’[email protected]last_img

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