SYRACUSE, NY — Boston College coach Steve Donahue preached to his team all season that it should keep believing in itself, and in a clutch second half and overtime Wednesday, the Eagles turned that sermon into reality.
Eagles guard Lonnie Jackson coolly sank four foul shots in the final 26 seconds of overtime as the Eagles rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to stun No. 1 and previously unbeaten Syracuse University 62-59 on Wednesday in the Carrier Dome.
The Orange dropped to 25-1 overall and 12-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference while Boston College improved to 7-19, 3-10.
“We had great expectations for this program,” Donahue said. “We haven’t played as well as we hoped. The thing I love about this group is we haven’t quit in any game. It’s an incredible tribute to their perseverance. This is big. We can play with anybody in the country.”
Guard Olivier Hanlan paced the Eagles with 20 points while guard C.J. Fair led Syracuse with 20 as well.
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said he saw a result like this one coming, especially when the Orange won their last two games over Pittsburgh and North Carolina State by a combined three points.
“When you get in enough of these games, there’s going to be one of them where you don’t make a play,” he said. “You get in enough of these games, you are not going to win them all.”
The Eagles swung the game their way by going 9-of-14 from 3-point range in the second half and overtime while Syracuse clanked away offensively. Syracuse hit just 20 of its 62 field-goal attempts in the contest, and two of 12 on its 3-pointers.
“Offensively, we just couldn’t get going,” said Boeheim , whose team beat Boston College earlier this year 69-59. “We have to score more. It’s really simple. This isn’t complicated. We have to be better on offense.”
With the Eagles nursing a 58-57 lead with 26 seconds left in overtime, Jackson dropped in a set of foul shots for a 60-57 cushion.
“I was confident up there,” Jackson said. “I’m just doing the same routine, trust my practice, trust my preparation.”
Syracuse forward Rakeem Christmas hit a layup with 21 seconds remaining to bring the Orange within a point. But Jackson added two more at the charity stripe with 11 seconds left, and Syracuse guard Trevor Cooney’s attempt to tie the game with a 3-pointer with six seconds left misfired.
“Oh, it’s awesome,” Jackson said. “I can’t tell you how it feels. I can’t even tell you what I’m feeling right now.”
Guard Patrick Heckmann lifted the Eagles back on top with 44 seconds left on a layup for a 58-57 Boston College advantage.
“They lived in the moment,” Donahue said of his team. “They went possession by possession. There was a sense this job is going to take 40 minutes, 45 minutes.”
Syracuse guard Tyler Ennis hung three points on the scoreboard to push his team up 57-56 with 1:12 left in overtime. His fast-break layup tied the game at 56 with 2:12 left, and a minute later he drained a foul shot for the slim, temporary lead.
Heckmann bottomed out another 3-pointer with 2:55 left in overtime to pad Boston College’s lead to 56-52. But Christmas hit two foul shots to slice the deficit to 56-54.
Hanlan got his team off to a running start at the beginning of the extra period with a 3-pointer, but Fair countered in quick fashion that pulled the Orange within a point with 4:16 remaining.
“My mentality was to stay aggressive,” Hanlan said. “I just feel like a lot of people stepped up in overtime. I was a little nervous. Syracuse is a pretty good team down the stretch. We made more plays.”
The Orange had the last two cracks at ending the game in regulation. Ennis missed a layup with 27 ticks left but grabbed the offensive rebound.
After an Orange timeout, Christmas misfired on a jumper with two seconds left.
Hanlan tied the contest by cutting through the Syracuse defense for an easy lay-in with 47 seconds left for a 50-50 draw. That was the answer to Syracuse forward Jerami Grant’s short, spinning jumper that put his team
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