RALEIGH, N.C. — With everything going in its favor, the N.C. State Wolfpack blew a 16-point lead to the Syracuse Orange in the final 8:07 of regulation, and fell in overtime 100-93 Wednesday night at PNC Arena.
Led by guard John Gillon’s 43 points on 9-for-10 shooting from 3-point range, the Orange (14-9, 6-4) shot 58 percent from deep, which proved to be crucial, especially during the team’s second-half rally.
“Probably the best comeback that I can remember that we’ve had,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim acknowledged.
The loss dropped the Wolfpack (14-9, 3-7) further down the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) standings, where it now sits ahead of only Boston College and Pittsburgh.
After heading to the break trailing 44-41, State came out firing on all cylinders in the second half, opening on a 12-3 run.
While the defense wasn’t great, it made some stops and forced some Syracuse turnovers, helping the Pack outscore the Orange 34-15 in the first 11:16 of the second half.
Then, with a 75-59 lead, things fell apart for State.
Syracuse put on the full-court press defensively which helped cut a 16-point deficit to just one in about four minutes of game time.
“It [full-court press] saved the game,” Boeheim said.
“[It created] a couple turnovers and then we hit the threes at the same time… That was the only reason we won the game — we got those turnovers.”
Gillon scored 12 points, via four 3-pointers, during the quick 15-point turnaround.
N.C. State simply didn’t have an answer down the stretch for Gillon, who scored all of Syracuse’s final 20 points in regulation.
Despite the herculean effort from Gillon, a Maverick Rowan three with just 10 seconds left appeared to have won the game for the Pack.
Then Gillon struck again, drilling a three of his own with just 1.8 seconds remaining, to tie the game and send it to overtime, where it was all Cuse the rest of the way.
“In regulation it just came down to Gillon making an incredible shot,” N.C. State head coach Mark Gottfried said.
“We switched, Maverick had two hands in the air and the kid even looked a little off balance to me, and (Gillon) makes a three… Outside of how he played today, which was spectacular, that’s probably a shot you’d want to have a guy take against you, to be honest, and he made it.”
The Wolfpack’s loss overshadowed incredible, record-breaking performances from Rowan and freshman guard Dennis Smith Jr.
Rowan scored a career high 31 points and tied the previous record for threes made in PNC Arena with eight, until Gillon broke it himself seconds later.
“I thought he did a good job of kind of getting lost defensively on them where they couldn’t always locate him,” Gottfried said.
“He wasn’t shooting from the same spot on the floor. I thought he made some timely ones too for us — big ones, important shots. He was really shooting it well today.”
Smith Jr. registered his second triple-double of the season with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 15 assists, becoming the first ACC player ever to record two triple-doubles against conference opponents in the same season.
Gillon’s 43 points are the most in Syracuse history since Gerry McNamara did the same against BYU in the 2004 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
His nine made 3-pointers broke the previous PNC Arena record of eight set by reigning NBA MVP Stephen Curry as a member of the Davidson squad that upset Gonzaga in the 2008 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.
Fellow Syracuse guard, Andrew White III, added 28 points of his own.
Tyler Lydon controlled the paint for the Orange, picking up 15 points and seven rebounds.
Abdul-Malik Abu (19 points), Terry Henderson (16 points) and Omer Yurtseven (10 points) helped carry the offensive workload for the Pack.
Things won’t get any easier for N.C. State as Miami, a team who beat the Wolfpack by 18 points earlier this season, visits PNC Arena Saturday afternoon.