SYRACUSE, N.Y. Jim Boeheim shrugged. It was nice while it lasted.
“It’s been an unbelievable run of making unbelievable plays in the last six or seven minutes of games,” Boeheim said Wednesday night after No. 1 Syracuse lost 62-59 in overtime to Boston College, ending the Orange’s run at an unbeaten season. “I’ve never seen anything like it before. We’ve had a lot of good teams, but I don’t think we’ve had any teams that would’ve won all these games the way this team has. It’s remarkable what they’ve done.”
Syracuse’s 25-game winning streak came to a screeching halt when the Eagles found their range from behind the arc. Held to 2-of-8 shooting on 3-pointers in the opening half, BC drained 9 of 14 in the final 25 minutes to pull off the stunning upset and leave No. 3 Wichita State (28-0) as the lone unbeaten in Division I.
“I’m not disappointed (in the streak ending),” freshman guard Tyler Ennis said after his first college loss. “It’s nice to win all these games, but it’s pretty unrealistic to think you’re going to go undefeated in the ACC.”
Syracuse (25-1, 12-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) won 58-56 at Pittsburgh a week ago on Ennis’ 40-footer at the buzzer and 56-55 over North Carolina State in the Carrier Dome on Saturday night with a late steal as the Orange had walked a tightrope much of the season.
Both teams had chances to win it in regulation and faltered. BC was called for two shot-clock violations in the final 4:30 and Rakeem Christmas missed a short hook in the lane with a second left and the game tied at 50.
“I think it should’ve been won,” said C.J. Fair, who struggled to score 20 points on 7-of-23 shooting, taking and missing only one shot from behind the arc. “I still think this team is special. We can still accomplish something special.”
Fair had 11 rebounds, Ennis had 14 points and six assists, and Jerami Grant finished with 11 points.
Olivier Hanlan and Patrick Heckmann hit 3-pointers in overtime and Lonnie Jackson made four straight free throws in the final 26.2 seconds to secure the victory.
“It was an emotional game for us,” BC coach Steve Donahue said after his first Carrier Dome win in eight tries against the Orange. “It’s been incredible for these guys to persevere. We’ve played well in a lot of games.”
The Eagles came to town with heavy hearts and a good dose of determination. Longtime basketball media contact and sports information assistant Dick Kelley died last week after a two-year battle with ALS. His funeral was Tuesday and the Eagles, who often visited his apartment, were wearing “DK” patches on their uniforms.
“The patch on our chests, toward the end of the game it was like, `We can’t be denied. DK is looking down on us. He’s got us,”‘ forward Ryan Anderson said. “It’s real emotional. It’s really going to set in in a couple of hours.”
Boston College (7-19, 3-10), which had lost five straight, rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to pull off the improbable upset.
The Eagles had dropped six games by four points or fewer, including 74-71 at Georgia Tech and 73-69 to Notre Dame in the last week. They won this one by going 11 of 22 from behind the arc and committed just three turnovers in the final 25 minutes after giving away 12 in the opening half that Syracuse converted into 17 points.
“We’ve been in a lot of close games this year, lost a lot of heartbreakers,” said Jackson, who was just 9 of 16 from the free throw line in conference play entering the game. “We’ve been in this before, so we just had to rely on that. Finally, the ball bounced our way.”
Syracuse travels to No. 5 Duke on Saturday night for a rematch of their overtime instant classic on Feb. 1, won by the Orange 91-89.
The Eagles, whose only conference wins this season were over Virginia Tech, beat a No. 1-ranked team for the third time and first since knocking off then-No. 1 North Carolina in 2009.
Syracuse shot a season-low 32.2 percent from the field, including going 2 of 12 from 3-point range, its sputtering offense unable to pull off another miracle finish.
“When you get in enough of these games, there’s going to be one you’re not going to make a play. That’s what happens,” Boeheim said. “At the end of games, you get into enough of these games, you’re not going to win.
“I’m really happy that we’ve won 25 games,” Boeheim said. “We can’t think about that. We’ve got to think about what we have to going forward. We’ve really got to get better, and I think we will.”
Tied at 50 after two halves played at Boston College’s deliberate pace, Hanlan and Heckmann hit from long range to give BC a 56-52 lead with 2:56 left, but Ennis’ driving layup knotted the score at 56 with 2:09 to play.
A free throw by Ennis gave the Orange a one-point lead, but Heckmann’s backdoor layup put the Eagles back in front with 43.5 seconds left.
After a timeout, Ennis threw a pass toward Fair in the right corner that sailed out of bounds. After the officials initially ruled it was Syracuse’s ball a video review with 32.5 seconds left re-affirmed the call. It didn’t matter when Fair missed a drive and Jackson sealed the victory with his clutch free throws.
Hanlan finished with 20 points and Jackson had 10. Anderson had nine points and 14 rebounds.
Grant’s spinning layup on a drive through the lane gave Syracuse a 50-48 lead with 77 seconds left in regulation, but Hanlan tied it with a layup 30 seconds later.
Ennis then missed a layup attempt but snared his own rebound and Boeheim called a timeout with 20 seconds left to set up a final shot, but the miss by Christmas forced the extra period.
BC figured to attack the Syracuse zone inside-out with Jackson leading the ACC in shooting at 50 percent (34 of 68) from behind the arc and Joe Rahon and Hanlan each with 21 3-pointers. Eddie Odio averaging 42.4 percent from long range, also started.
BC trailed by eight points at halftime and by as many 13 in the second half before its outside game came alive. Hanlan hit three from behind the arc and Rahon had two in a 7-minute span to key a 21-8 spurt, and Anderson’s layup tied it at 41-all with 8:15 left.
A 3 by Rahon from the left corner made it 46-42 with 6:09 to go. Syracuse tied it at 46 on Ennis’ driving layup with 5:09 left, but he committed a turnover on the ensuing possession and Heckmann’s layup put BC back in front 48-46 at 3:30.
The Orange tied it at 48 on a free throw by Christmas with 2:23 to play.
Grant’s three-point play gave Syracuse a 25-17 lead at halftime as the Orange held Boston College’s top scorers in check. Hanlan was 1 of 5 from the field and Anderson 1 of 4.
The Orange boosted the lead to 33-20 on Ennis’ 3 from the wing with 17:25 left.
Syracuse won at Boston College a little more than a month ago. The Orange trailed 51-46 with just over 10 minutes to play, then took advantage of their size inside during a 16-1 run over a span of less than 4 minutes and won 69-59.