Comeback Cats: Panthers rally again, beat Syracuse
Pittsburgh, PA (Sports Network) – Carl Krauser scored 19 points — all in
the second half — and Chevon Troutman added 18 points and nine rebounds, as
20th-ranked Pittsburgh rallied from a 17-point deficit to topple No. 4
Syracuse, 76-69, in Big East action at the Petersen Events Center.
Freshman Keith Benjamin netted 10 points for the Panthers (14-3, 4-2 Big
East), who posted their second consecutive win over a ranked team after being
down by double digits in the first half. Pittsburgh trailed by 17 before
rallying for a 76-66 victory at then-No. 16 Connecticut a week ago.
Gerry McNamara poured in a game-high 26 points and Hakim Warrick scored 25 for
the Orange (20-2, 7-1), who saw their 13-game win streak come to an end.
The game was a mirror image of Syracuse’s last game, as the Orange came back
from a 20-point deficit to post an 86-84 win at Rutgers last Monday.
Down by as many as 17 points in the first half, Pittsburgh trailed by five at
the break and pulled to within two at 37-35 on a three-pointer by Krauser
three minutes into the second half.
After Warrick put Syracuse up by three with a free throw, Krauser nailed
another trey to tie the game at 38 apiece with 15:45 remaining. But the Orange
scored the next six points and went up 44-38 on a fast-break layup by Demetris
Nichols with 13:54 left.
However, the Panthers responded with a 13-0 run to take a seven-point lead.
Pittsburgh pulled to within 44-43 on Aaron Gray’s tip-in with 12:47 to play
and took its first lead when Benjamin made it 45-44 with a pair of free throws
with 11:20 left.
The Panthers wound up leading by as many as 15 points, as Troutman’s layup
with 2:22 to play made it a 67-52 contest.
“It didn’t feel like we were down 17,” said the Panthers’ Levon Kendall. “We
made a lot of mental mistakes that gave them open shots. We knew that if we
played as well as we could, it wouldn’t be a problem coming back.”
Syracuse pulled to within six at 75-69 when Warrick made 2-of-3 from the free
throw line when he was fouled on a three-point attempt with 17 seconds left.
But that would be as close as the Orange would get.
Pittsburgh, which made just 1-of-13 from the floor and went seven minutes
without a field goal early in the first half, wound up shooting 42 percent
(23-of-55) for the contest. The Panthers were 9-of-24 from three-point range
and 21-of-27 from the foul line.
The Panthers exacted a bit of revenge on Syracuse, which handed Pittsburgh its
first-ever loss at the Petersen Events Center with a 49-46 overtime decision
on February 29, 2004. That loss snapped Pittsburgh’s school-record 40-game
home win streak and ended a string of 34 straight victories at the facility.
Syracuse shot 43 percent (22-of-51), going 6-of-22 from beyond the arc. The
Orange went 19-of-27 from the free throw stripe.
“We can’t win with only two guys scoring,” said Syracuse head coach Jim
Boeheim, referring to McNamara and Warrick combining for 51 of the team’s 69
points. “We need better balance.”
The Orange were facing a nationally ranked team for the first time since
suffering a 74-60 loss to then-No. 5 Oklahoma State on December 7.
Syracuse opened the game with a 22-5 run capped by Terrence Roberts’ dunk with
10:31 left in the opening half. Warrick and McNamara each scored seven points
during the outburst.
But Pittsburgh countered with a 7-1 spurt and pulled to within 23-12 on
Benjamin’s jumper with 8:36 left in the period. The Panthers cut the deficit
to six at 31-25 on a putback by Troutman with 3:46 remaining.
Troutman pulled Pittsburgh to within five with a free throw that made it
34-29 with 11 seconds left. Syracuse, led by McNamara’s 14 points, took that
five-point lead into the locker room.