Syracuse Advances to Elite 8

Orange headed to the Elite Eight

Michael Gbinije had a team-high 20 points and scored the go-ahead basket for Syracuse against Gonzaga in a 63-60 win.

In a back-and-forth game between two evenly matched teams, the Orange outlasted No. 11 Gonzaga, 63-60, in the NCAA Midwest Regional round of 16 Friday night at the United Center in Chicago. Syracuse managed the clock well and won thanks to a 9-3 run in the final three minutes of the game. Graduate guard Michael Gbinije scored the basket which put Syracuse up for good; a layup after his own offensive-rebound to make the score 61-60 with 22 seconds to play. On the ensuing play, Gonzaga (28-8) inbounded and took the ball to their offensive side for a final attempt at the lead, but point guard Josh Perkins' shot got blocked by Orange freshman Tyler Lydon, who got fouled right after. Lydon went to the free throw line and hit both shots, leaving Gonzaga only a few seconds to launch a hail mary through the hoop in hopes of a game-tying buzzer-beater, but it was off mark. 

Photo: Sam Maller
Syracuse junior forward Tyler Roberson had a huge slam off a rebound in the first half.

The Orange (21-14) overcame an 11-point first half deficit, and went into half time only down one, 29-28. They came out hot in the second half and Tyler Lydon's layup just 17 seconds in put them ahead. That basket spurred another four points, capping an Orange 11-0 run at 34-28 which started in the first half. 

With 15:30 to play, Gonzaga would tie the game at 34 off a three-pointer, and another by senior forward Kyle Wiltjer would give the Bulldogs the lead 39-36. 

Up to the 7:48 mark, the Bulldogs would continue adding to their lead with a 10-2 run, ending at 53-46. Trevor Cooney brought the lead down to six with a three-pointer and 6:18 to play, and Malachi Richardson scored from long range too to make it a three-point game with 3:25 to play, 75-54. 

Gonzaga's star player, sophomore forward Domantas Sabonis, would put the Bulldog's back on top by five with two good free throws, making the score 59-54. The Orange would again cut the lead to one before Sabonis hit one more from the charity stripe, putting the score at 60-58 Gonzaga. A wild possession with four offensive rebounds concluded with Tyler Roberson going to the line and going 1-2, which would set up the final minute of the game. 

Gbinije would lead the team with 20 points, while Cooney added 15 and Richardson had 10. Lydon blocked the Bulldogs six times. Syracuse shot 36 percent from the floor and 33 percent from beyond the arc. 

Sabonis and Wiltjer were the big dogs for Gonzaga, as they scored 19 and 23, respectively. 

The Orange will play the No. 1 ranked Virginia Cavaliers Sunday at 6:09 p.m. in the Elite Eight. 

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