The junior forward broke out of a three-game slump with 16
points and 10 rebounds, and Syracuse beat West Virginia (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP)
60-58 on Monday night, its first win this season over a ranked
"When we play as physical and as active and energetic as we
were, it's hard to stop us," said the 6-foot-9 Roberts, who had a
total of 10 points and 12 rebounds in the three previous games.
"Everyone was so calm and patient. We knew we could get whatever
Roberts, who had given the Orange a 58-55 lead with a dunk over
Kevin Pittsnogle, took a feed from senior guard Gerry McNamara and
hit a hook shot in the lane with 2:25 remaining for what turned out
to be the winning basket.
It was the fourth loss in five games for West Virginia (18-8,
9-4 Big East), which won its first eight games in the conference.
Syracuse (19-8, 7-6), which had been reeling with five losses in
six games, has won three of its last four.
Eric Devendorf had 17 points for the Orange, who won despite one
of the worst shooting games in the Carrier Dome of McNamara's
career. He finished with five points on 2-of-14 shooting but had
nine assists. Center Darryl Watkins had 10 points and nine
"It was the biggest win so far this year, and the reason was
because we were so active in our zone," said McNamara, whose lone
3-pointer gave him 372 for his career, ninth in NCAA history. "In
the second half, we just shut them down."
West Virginia came in averaging over 72 points per game and was
second in the NCAA with 10 3-pointers per game. The Mountaineers
finished 12-for-33 from long range, but the ball didn't fall when
it counted most.
After Pittsnogle hit a 3 to tie it at 58-all with 3:57 left, he
missed twice, Mike Gansey missed another, Joe Herber committed a
turnover, and Patrick Beilein missed from way behind the 3-point
line as the Syracuse zone stretched the shooters on the perimeter.
"They were causing havoc," said Beilein, who scored all 18 of
his points on 3-pointers but went only 1-of-3 from beyond the arc
in the second half. "They were really extended. We just got mixed
up on what we were running, which caused us to panic a little bit.
It was a deep shot I had to take."
"They weren't going to give us a 3," said West Virginia coach
John Beilein, who fell to 0-8 in his career against Syracuse. "We
should have put it inside, but nobody was there."
The one time the Mountaineers tried, Herber couldn't handle a
hard pass from Pittsnogle, and it slithered through his hands out
of bounds under the basket for a critical turnover with 72 seconds
"The last two possessions we did not do what we wanted to do,"
John Beilein said. "We were running a certain pattern, and one
time we got confused. It just takes one person to get confused, and
it throws everybody off. That's just the way it goes. We'll learn
something from it. It's hard to do that in that atmosphere."
Pittsnogle led West Virginia with 20 points, but Gansey, who was
5-of-6 on 3-pointers against Connecticut on Saturday, missed all
six of his shots from long range against the Orange and finished
with eight points.
Both teams were playing on just one day's rest, the Mountaineers
coming off an 81-75 home loss to then-No. 1 Connecticut and the
Orange fresh from an important 79-66 home win over Louisville.
After Watkins converted a give-and-go with McNamara to give
Syracuse a 47-44 lead midway through the second half, the lead
changed hands three times before the Orange defense clamped down.
West Virginia, with only three teams fouls, committed three more
after McNamara missed a drive to the hoop with 39 seconds left, but
Beilein missed his long 3 with 5.1 seconds left.
McNamara, the best free throw shooter in Big East history,
missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 1.8 seconds left, but he got
the rebound amid four West Virginia players and the clock expired.
"Our defense at the end was tremendous by all our guys,"
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "They couldn't get a shot the
last couple of chances."
The Mountaineers, third in the Big East in free throw shooting
at 74.1 percent, never even took one on Monday. Syracuse officials
said that had not happened to any team since the Carrier Dome
opened in 1980.