Fast reaction: 3 takeaways from Syracuse’s Sweet 16 victory over Gonzaga

first_imgCHICAGO — Syracuse played a game down to the wire and pulled out a 63-60 win over Gonzaga to advance to the Elite Eight. The Orange will now face Virginia on Sunday afternoon.Here are three thoughts from the game and the wild finish.Late defense gets it doneSyracuse employed its press down the stretch and it worked. When a Syracuse player took a spill to the ground with SU down by three, Trevor Cooney picked it up and laid it in. Again it was Cooney who’s deflection caused a 10-second violation on Gonzaga a couple possessions later.Then he stole a pass with 11.2 seconds. It appeared he stayed in bounds but the referees said he was out of bounds. When the Bulldogs got the ball back, it was a huge Tyler Lydon block and rebound that essentially iced the game. He made two free throws and Gonzaga missed a long full-court heave at the buzzer.AdvertisementShowing up Michael Gbinije struggled to score in the first half, going just 2-of-7 from the field, and collecting just one assist. But when the break ended, he was a different player. On the first play, he fed Cooney, who cut across the baseline to make a layup. Then he scored the next four points himself. When the Bulldogs called a timeout, his chest-bump with Christian White was so powerful that it knocked the walk-on to the ground.He had one play where he was stripped and picked it right back up and scored. Another where he ended a Gonzaga run that put the Bulldogs up seven in the second half. He did a lot, but hardly make up for the rest of an offensive unit that didn’t score as often as usual.With Syracuse down one and 30 seconds to play, he missed a shot but, again, got the loose ball and put it in to give the Orange the lead.He finished with 20 points, and the last two were for the win.Up and down Syracuse couldn’t get a stop for the first nine minutes. Kyle Wiltjer was 4-of-4 from the field with 11 points. The Orange faced a quick 18-8 deficit and the Bulldogs’ defense made it hard for SU’s offense to find any sort of rhythm.But once a Frank Howard 3 went down and a Gbinije 3 followed after, the Bulldogs weren’t getting the same wide-open looks they did to start the game. Syracuse got up by as many as five points by scoring the first six points in the second half. Wiltjer missed his first three shots and SU began to pull away.But with Syracuse leading by one, Kyle Dranginis hit an open 3, then Domantas Sabonis had an open layup which preceded another open 3 by Eric McClellan. All of a sudden, SU was back down by seven points, a deficit subsequently made up in the game’s final minutes. Comments Published on March 25, 2016 at 10:35 pm Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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