SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- First Pitt. Then Kansas. Now Syracuse.
Beating the big teams is getting to be old hat for Bucknell,
which used its slowdown offense to rally past the
Orange (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today; No. 17 AP) 74-69 on Tuesday night.
"We never take the underdog role," said Kevin Bettencourt, who
led Bucknell with 20 points and keyed a late 13-2 run that decided
the game. "We think we can win every game."
And why not?
Last January, Bucknell handed 10th-ranked Pittsburgh its first
loss of the season, also snapping the Panthers' 48-game home
winning streak against nonconference teams. Then in March, the Bison shocked the third-seeded Jayhawks 64-63 in the first round of the
On this night, it was the Orange's turn. Bucknell (2-0) won for
the first time in nine meetings with Syracuse (3-2) and sent the
Orange to their second straight loss.
"We thought if we did certain things well, we could hang
around," Bucknell coach Pat Flannery said. "We played with a lot
And oh so deliberately. The Bison took only 17 shots in the
second half, milking the clock on almost every possession, and
missed just three times -- an eye-opening 82.4 percent.
Syracuse trailed most of the first half before going on a late
10-3 run to take a 28-27 halftime lead. And when Nichols and
McNamara hit consecutive 3-pointers to put the Orange up 60-56 with
5:27 left in what had been a see-saw game, the Carrier Dome was
rocking in anticipation of victory.
"When we made our run, we just couldn't get separation,"
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "Defensively, we just cannot stop
people, and that's my biggest concern right now."
Unfazed by the noise, the Bison stuck with their game and it
paid off. Their winning surge began when Lee missed a foul shot and
was given another after Roberts committed a lane violation.
Lee converted the extra chance with 4:19 remaining and a steal
and layup by Abe Badmus tied it at 60-all.
After the Orange missed three straight times down court, Lee
stole the ball from center Darryl Watkins in the lane and sent
Bettencourt on a fast-break layup that put Bucknell up 62-60 with
McNaughton then hit a hook in the lane and Bettencourt went
5-for-6 from the free throw line to give the Bison a 69-62 lead
with 65 seconds left.
Syracuse was done in by its sloppy play. Freshman Eric Devendorf
and sophomore Josh Wright each committed turnovers in a 20-second
span in the final two minutes, and Watkins and Wright also
committed fouls, sending Bettencourt repeatedly to the foul line.
"We made careless turnovers, and they didn't," said McNamara,
who had four assists and five of the Orange's 16 turnovers. "We're
struggling right now and have to find ourselves. Hopefully, we can
do that in the next couple of days."
The 6-foot-9 Roberts had all but one of his rebounds in the
first half, and the 6-11 Watkins finished with three boards, none
in the second half.
"We can't play 20 minutes with Terrence and Mookie [Watkins]
and get one rebound," Boeheim said. "Bucknell is a very good
team, they're going to score points, they're going to get shots.
But we cannot not do a better job inside on the boards. If we play
in the Big East at this level, I don't see us winning four games,
and that might be a stretch."