Gbinije closes out Syracuse’s comeback victory over Hokies with clutch crunch-time scoring

first_imgRakeem Christmas was covered and Michael Gbinije’s first look was gone. He was the second. Driving right to left across the top of the key, with the game tied and Devin Wilson blanketing him, Gbinije stopped on his left foot and spun to the left.Both of Wilson’s hands were up and between Gbinije’s elbows. But neither could reach Gbinije or the game-winning shot he was about to drain in front of the Syracuse student section to win the game with a tenth of a second left.“One of the best plays in that situation that I’ve seen,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said.Boeheim’s in his 39th season coaching the Orange. The play capped the 963rd win of his career and clinched a contest, 72-70, for SU (15-7, 6-3 Atlantic Coast) over Virginia Tech (9-13, 1-8) in which Rakeem Christmas was limited below his high standards. Trevor Cooney was misfiring, too. And while Syracuse remains without enough scoring options to do anything comfortably, its third, Gbinije, was the winning one.His 18 points, seven assists and four steals kept Syracuse close with the Hokies when the hosts struggled, even when the visitors couldn’t miss 3s and put SU in front at the last possible moment.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“It was just scratch-and-claw mentality,” Gbinije said.His performance was by no means pristine. Very little is in last-second wins against one of the worst teams in the ACC.He missed four of his first eight free throws, stalling an SU comeback fueled by VT turnovers and the foul trouble the Hokies had buried themselves in. The same man who was bringing the ball up the court with the game on the line was clanking freebies off the top of the rim, the inside of it and even the backboard.In the game’s final minute though, SU would get nothing from Christmas, Cooney or anyone else on the Orange. It got the ball from Virginia Tech and all of its points from Gbinije.With 37 seconds left, he pounced into the middle of the lane, bounced off Jalen Hudson, drawing a foul and laid the ball in to close VT’s lead to 70-68. Yet he threw the ensuing free throw off the right side of the rim, up away from the hoop and into Ahmed Hill’s hands.“I’m really just trying to shoot like no one’s there,” Gbinije said.But there were plenty of people there, thinking he’d just blown SU’s last best chance to beat a lowly Hokies team.His sprawling arms, though, kept the Hokies trapped for much of the final six minutes while his diving across the floor preserved SU possession with 3:16 remaining. Most importantly, Gbinije’s continuous slashing to the rim meant gutting Virginia Tech into the double bonus with 4:46 remaining.And with 18.9 seconds left in the game, it also meant going to the charity stripe with a chance to tie the game in front of a crowd that’d mostly groaned in disappointment with him at the free-throw line.His first hit the front rim, bounced off the backboard and dropped in to cut the Hokies’ lead to 70-69 with 18.9 seconds remaining. His second swished through the hoop, setting an ugly game as his stage for heroics.“We’re playing with three guys,” Boeheim said. “And that’s hard to do in college basketball.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 4, 2015 at 12:56 am Contact Jacob: [email protected] | @Jacob_Klinger_last_img

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