It took a pair of heart attack-inducing finishes, but Louisville somehow managed to walk out of the Carrier Dome Monday night with a 76-72 overtime win over Syracuse.
U of L, which had led for the bulk of the evening, appeared to have the game well in-hand when they held a 55-48 lead with just three minutes to play. But then Donovan Mitchell, who finished with a team-high 16 points, picked up his fifth foul. Louisville saw its lead cut to five, but still appeared to be in good shape with 1:15 to play.
Then things got weird.
Syracuse made two free-throws and then used their press to turn Quentin Snider over and hit a lay-up that cut the lead to one. David Levitch then missed an uncontested three-pointer, but Jaylen Johnson’s one-handed follow slam pushed the lead back to three. John Gillon responded on the other end with a rainbow three-pointer that seemed like it might hit the top of the Carrier Dome before it ripped through the home team’s net.
The Cardinals still had a chance to win the game in regulation, but two missed free-throws by Deng Adel with less than 10 seconds to play then passed that opportunity along to the Orange. Gillon turned the ball over, and then Snider’s halfcourt prayer sailed over the backboard to send the game into overtime.
Ryan McMahon went full Kyle Kuric on Syracuse in the extra period, scoring seven points including a plus-one off an offensive rebound. Still, Louisville didn’t make things easy on themselves.
The Cardinals led by eight with just 36 seconds to play, but a pair of Syracuse three-pointers, a Mangok Mathiang foul on another three-point attempt, and several missed free-throws by U of L gave the ‘Cuse one last chance to pull off a miracle win. Trailing 74-72 with 12 seconds to play, White missed a deep three-pointer, but Tyler Roberson grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Anas Mahmoud. Roberson missed both free-throws, and Gillon’s attempt to recover the offensive rebound left him out-of-bounds.
Look, I just wrote all that and I’m still not entirely sure what happened. All I know is Louisville went on the road and won a game that a whole lot of people expected them to lose, and they did without their best player on the court for the game’s final eight minutes. That doesn’t excuse the poor free-throw shooting or the ridiculous decisions down the stretch, but it’s still cool.
Also cool? This stuff:
Dunkin' Don back pic.twitter.com/iuNtQdyzYi— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) February 14, 2017
Dunkin' Don back part 2 pic.twitter.com/OXVNdciP5w— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) February 14, 2017
Other angle plus Syracuse bench reaction pic.twitter.com/zErYv2fMPt— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) February 14, 2017
Two down, 14 to go.