first_img Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ As the buzzer sounded and the backboard lit up to signal the end of the game, the celebration on the Cincinnati sidelines began.Already on their feet after Bearcats forward Bjonee Reaves hit a contested desperation heave from the free-throw line with 2.5 seconds left — hanging in the air and falling away from the basket — half the Cincinnati players smothered head coach Jamelle Elliot while the other half sprinted to mob Reaves with hugs near half court.As the Bearcats shared the emotional embraces on the Carrier Dome floor, the Syracuse players watched patiently on the sideline — victims of a one-point loss on the game’s final possession.‘At the end of the day, I mean the shot she made was running away from the basket, double-pump, one-handed shot,’ SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said. ‘It was just a shot. She made a play.’That shot in the final seconds handed Syracuse (13-9, 2-6 Big East) a crushing 55-54 defeat in front of 817 in the Carrier Dome on Saturday. The Orange battled back to take its first lead of the second half with less than two minutes left and held a one-point advantage going into the final minute, but SU couldn’t close out the game. A costly turnover with 28 seconds remaining gave Cincinnati (10-11, 1-7) one last chance, setting the scene for Reaves’ game-winning basket.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange trailed for nearly 26 consecutive minutes until Iasia Hemingway’s pull-up in transition put Syracuse ahead 52-50 with 1:50 left.With the game knotted at 50-50, Syracuse stayed active as Cincinnati swung the ball around the top of the key with no open looks. When UC guard Kayla Cook caught the ball at the top of the key with two seconds left on the shot clock, Syracuse guard Elashier Hall took the ball from her to start a fast break that ended with Hemingway’s big shot from just beyond the left block.‘We just took every possession like it was our last,’ Hemingway said. ‘We just came out and were just hustling and trying to outwork them. And it came down to who wanted the 50-50 balls and who wanted it more.’But the defense broke down on the next possession, leaving Cook — who led the Bearcats with 14 points — all alone in the left corner for one of her four 3s to give her team a 53-52 lead.Still, SU responded when Hall hit a tough pull-up from the right wing to retake the lead 54-53 with 1:31 left.Hillsman urged his team to get a defensive stop, running out to the Carrier sticker on the court near the SU bench to wave them to get up on shooters. The ball ended up in Cook’s hands again on the right wing with two seconds on the shot clock.But she was blanketed by the SU zone and missed long off the rim out of bounds with 40 seconds left. At that point, Hillsman felt his team had the game won. The Orange held possession and all it had to do was hold onto the ball and knock down free throws.‘I was thinking we were going to win the basketball game actually,’ Hillsman said. ‘Because once we got the ball inbounds, the only thing that could have gone wrong is what went wrong.’What went wrong let Cincinnati back into the game. Following an Orange timeout, SU guard Phylesha Bullard received the inbounds pass and was immediately surrounded by Cincinnati defenders and turned it over with 28 seconds remaining.‘Sometimes freak accidents happen and things like that happen,’ SU guard Carmen Tyson-Thomas said. ‘It’s an end-of-the-game play. It’s erratic at the end of the moment. I mean things happen.’After the late-game gaffe by Bullard, SU burned its two fouls to leave the Bearcats with 16 seconds for its final possession.Reaves received the ball on a kickout on the left wing and made her move, dribbling right toward the foul line.She let go of her off-balance shot, throwing the ball at the rim, and it dropped through the net. Reaves jumped in the air and gave a fist pump after the shot as her teammates on the bench leapt out of their seats.They didn’t sit down and the celebration began after time ran out as Hemingway tried to get off a last-second heave from half court.‘It’s just one of those things. The kid made a tough shot,’ Hillsman said. ‘I thought that was probably one of our better defensive possessions late clock we had all game, and she took a contested shot going away from the basket.‘So I give her a lot of credit for making the shot.’rjgery@syr.educenter_img Published on January 28, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Ryne: rjgery@syr.edulast_img

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