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March 1, 2008
Pitt steals win, Syracuse falls off bubble
It was the fifth straight win in the Carrier Dome for Pittsburgh (21-8, 9-7 Big East) and a costly loss for Syracuse (17-12, 7-9), which is on the NCAA tournament bubble for the third straight year with only two games remaining in the regular season. The loss left the Orange alone in 11th place in the conference, pending the outcome of the Seton Hall- St. John's game later Saturday.
Young led Pittsburgh with 19 points, Benjamin had 17, Levance Fields 13, and Ronald Ramon and Gilbert Brown 12 apiece. Freshman DeJuan Blair, plagued by foul trouble, had only eight points in 26 minutes.
The second half was tied three times before Syracuse went on a 14-2 spurt as Pitt sputtered, missing three times from beyond the arc, once in the lane, and committing two turnovers in a six-minute span.
After Ramon hit a 3 from left wing to give the Panthers a 57-56 lead midway through the period, Greene drove the baseline for a basket, hit a pullup jumper in the lane and a free throw to give Syracuse a 61-57 lead.
Harris followed with a driving layup and midrange jumper, Greene hit a long jumper from the right corner, and Flynn swished a 3 from the right corner to put the Orange up 70-59 with 5:52 left.
Benjamin stopped the skid with a 3 from the top of the key. Flynn countered with his sixth 3 of the game, which tied his season high. After a dunk by Young, Harris passed to Arinze Onuaku for a dunk at 3:49 to restore the Orange's 11-point lead.
Undaunted, Pitt scored nine straight points to start a dramatic rally. Brown drained a 3 from the top of the key, Ramon made a layup after stealing an inbounds pass, and Fields made four free throws to bring the Panthers within a basket with 2:03 left.
After a Syracuse timeout, Flynn hit a runner in the lane, but Brown hit a long 3 from right wing to pull the Panthers within 77-76 with 63 seconds left to set up the frantic finish.
In the final minute, Flynn missed a rushed 3 as the shot clock was about to expire and Brown missed a shot that deflected out of bounds before Young's critical steal gave Pitt a 78-77 lead.
Scoop Jardine missed a baseline jumper from the right corner with just under 5 seconds left and Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was called for a technical after running on the court and protesting an apparent foul on Harris that wasn't called. Fields made four free throws with 1.5 seconds left to cap the comeback.
Syracuse gained the biggest lead of the tight first half when Harris capped a personal six-point flurry with a one-handed, fast-break dunk off a long pass from Flynn to put the Orange up 16-9 at 13:37.
Ramon's 3-pointer from right wing finished a seven-point rally by the Panthers that tied the game at 16-all midway through the period.
Syracuse, last in the Big East from beyond the arc at 28.2 percent in league games, went 5-for-8 (63 percent) from long range in the opening half, four by Flynn, and took a 37-35 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Pitt was just 2-for-11 on 3-pointers in the half but kept it close by scoring 13 points off the Orange's 12 turnovers and winning the battle on the offensive glass 7-1 as the Panthers outscored Syracuse 8-1 on second-chance points.