4:00 PM ET, February 29, 2004
Petersen Events Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- For more than 41 minutes, Pittsburgh defensive ace Julius Page never left Syracuse's Gerry McNamara uncovered. Every dribble, every pass, every look at the basket, Page was right there.The one time Page gambled and left him alone, McNamara hit the shot that effectively ended Pitt's 25½-month home-court winning streak and may cost the Panthers a No. 1 seed in the Big East and NCAA tournaments.McNamara, held scoreless by No. 3 Pittsburgh for the equivalent of a game and a half, hit a go-ahead 3-pointer and two key free throws in overtime and Syracuse (19-6, 9-5) halted the Panthers' 40-game home winning streak with a 49-46 upset Sunday.Pitt's streak was the second longest in Division I to Duke's 41-game run. The Panthers had been 34-0 at home since opening the Petersen Events Center last season and hadn't lost in Pittsburgh since being surprised by Notre Dame 56-53 on Jan. 12, 2002, at Fitzgerald Field House."We didn't get it done and our guys are very disappointed," said coach Jamie Dixon, a loser at home for the first time. "It was an unbelievable streak, and we'll just have to start another one."Hakim Warrick scored 17 points for the defending national champion Orangemen, who tied Seton Hall for fourth place in the Big East. The top four teams receive a first-round bye, which coach Jim Boeheim says is almost a necessity to win the tournament.Pitt (25-3, 11-3), confused and ineffective the entire game as the Orangemen constantly gave the Panthers different looks out of their 2-3 zone defense, dropped into a first-place tie with Connecticut and Providence heading into Tuesday's road game against the Friars.While Syracuse's Josh Pace said ending the streak didn't mean as much to Syracuse as getting a quality win for its NCAA seeding, the loss was a big deal to Pitt. The Panthers shot a terrible 30.9 percent and, for the first time since opening their new arena, were pushed around at home.That troubled Page, who blamed himself for leaving McNamara uncovered on the 3-pointer that put Syracuse up 47-44 with 3:52 remaining, the only shot McNamara made in nine attempts."I went to double (on Warrick) and my man made a 3," Page said. "I didn't leave him the whole game and ... I hate losing. I'm a sore loser. I took a gamble, and I paid for it."After McNamara's jumper, there was no more scoring except for Chris Taft's two free throws until McNamara's two foul shots with 27 seconds to go. McNamara went 6-for-6 from the line, just as he did down the stretch Monday in Syracuse's 64-59 victory over Villanova.Jaron Brown and Mark McCarroll both missed hurried 3-point attempts in the final seconds as Pitt failed to tie it and force a second overtime. It was the second straight poorly played game by Pitt, which rallied from 13 points down to beat Georgetown 68-58 Tuesday."Pitt is the best team in the country from what we've seen," McNamara said. "Pitt and UConn are such good teams, but we feel like we can play with these teams. We just had to go out and do it."Syracuse avenged a 66-45 loss to Pitt at the Carrier Dome on Jan. 24 that saw the Orange held to their lowest point total in 35 years."I think all the guys were pumped up being that they beat us so bad at home," said Pace, who scored 13 points. "We just wanted to come in and be aggressive against them."This time, in a physical, contest-every-possession game, it was Syracuse that did the pushing around and dictated the tempo, never trailing after McNamara's first points of the game -- two free throws with 10:04 remaining that made it 34-32. McNamara was held scoreless by Pitt in the second half Jan. 24 and for nearly 30 minutes Sunday.Pitt trailed 42-38 when McNamara made two foul shots with 1:03 remaining, but Page's deep 3-pointer with 47 seconds left cut it to one. After Warrick was called for walking with 15 seconds left, Pitt's Chevon Troutman hit the front end of a one-and-one with 3.2 seconds left to tie it, but missed the second.The Panthers had no one in double figures as its top four scorers combined to go 12-for-43. Carl Krauser, held to nine points before fouling out with 1:03 remaining in regulation, and Brown were 3-for-12, Page was 3-for-10 and Taft was 3-for-9."When you've won 40 straight at home and are the No. 3 team in the country, it's only human nature that you're going to have something to think about when you're shooting long jumpers," Boeheim said.