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Syracuse escapes with 63-60 win over Gonzaga in Sweet 16

CHICAGO — Michael Gbinije made a go-ahead layup with 22 seconds left, sending Syracuse to a 63-60 victory over Gonzaga on Friday night and a spot in the Elite Eight.

Tyler Lydon sealed the win with a block on Josh Perkins’ runner in the final seconds. Lydon then grabbed the ball and made two foul shots before Domantas Sabonis’ desperate fling was well off at the buzzer.

Gbinije scored 20 points and Trevor Cooney had 15 as Syracuse (22-13) advanced to the regional final for the first time since 2013. The 10th-seeded Orange will face No. 1 Virginia on Sunday in an all-ACC matchup with a spot in the Final Four on the line.

“I’m proud of this team,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “They played their hearts out. We’ve been the underdog every game and they fight their way through it. We’ll be the underdog again on Sunday but we’ll be ready.”

Kyle Wiltjer had 23 points for No. 11 Gonzaga (28-8), and Sabonis finished with 19 points, 17 rebounds and five blocked shots. The rest of the Bulldogs accounted for just 18 points.

Gonzaga looked as if it was heading to the final eight for the second straight season before Syracuse switched to full-court pressure late in the second half. The Bulldogs held the Orange to 36.1 percent shooting, but committed 17 turnovers and Syracuse took advantage down the stretch.

Sabonis’ rebound basket gave the Bulldogs a 57-48 lead with 6:24 to play, but it was their last field goal of the night. Tyler Roberson’s foul shot got Syracuse within one before Gonzaga gave it right back with a 10-second violation. Lydon also had a key block on Sabonis to help keep it a one-point game.

Gbinije drove inside in the final 30 seconds and missed his first attempt before grabbing the rebound and putting it in for a 61-60 lead. Cooney then had a hustle steal on the other end, but stepped out of bounds in a close call that had fans looking for TV monitors all over the arena to see if they agreed.

With the crowd standing on its feet, Perkins drove into the lane and Lydon stepped up for the block before grabbing the ball and getting fouled with 1.6 second left. The freshman forward swatted six shots in all.

Tyler Roberson finished with nine points and 12 rebounds for Syracuse, which entered the tournament on a 1-5 slide.

Wiltjer made his first four shots, including three 3-pointers, as Gonzaga led by as many as 11 in the first half at 21-10 with 10:16 left. But the Orange fine-tuned their zone a bit and the Bulldogs began to struggle on the offensive side, managing just four more field goals before the break.

Roberson made two foul shots and got loose for a dunk in the final minutes as Syracuse closed to 29-28 at halftime. The Bulldogs had 10 turnovers at the break, but the Orange shot just 31 percent (9 for 29) from the field in the first half.

The drought continued for Gonzaga out of the locker room, and Gbinije’s jumper lifted Syracuse to a 34-29 lead. Sabonis’ jump hook with 16:04 left was the Bulldogs’ first basket in six minutes of game time.


Gonzaga: Sabonis is the son of former Portland Trail Blazers center Arvydas Sabonis. … Perkins had eight points and six assists.

Syracuse: The Orange went 14 of 16 at the line, compared to 4 of 5 for the Bulldogs.


Syracuse takes on Virginia on Sunday.

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