PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP)—Josh Pace coughed up the ball against the Providence press on consecutive plays. Then he made sure his turnovers didn’t cost Syracuse the game.
Pace hit the final two baskets and the seventh-ranked Orange held on to beat Providence 75-71 on Saturday after the Friars took advantage of his mistakes to erase most of a 14-point deficit.
“Josh Pace is our most efficient player,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “He made a couple of turnovers he doesn’t usually make, but he made up for it with the clock winding down.”
Pace scored 14 points and Hakim Warrick had 25 points, 12 rebounds and a key steal with 3.3 seconds left to help Syracuse (17-1, 4-0 Big East) win its 10th straight game.
Dwight Brewington had 21 points and eight rebounds for Providence while shooting 4-for-14 from 3-point range and Ryan Gomes, who averages 21 points, had just 14.
Providence (9-7, 0-3) fell to 0-3 against ranked teams and lost its third straight since the start of conference play despite leading No. 13 Boston College in the final 5 minutes and taking Villanova into overtime.
“I can put my head in the sand and say, ‘Woe is me,’ but no one cares,” Providence coach Tim Welsh said. “We’ve got to get going quickly. I see some light but it’s not bright enough, yet.”
Syracuse led by 14 points early in the second half and still led 67-63 with 2:43 left before DeSean White’s basket cut the deficit to two points. Providence pressured Pace into a turnover in the backcourt and Tukka Kotti came away with the ball.
White hit one of two free throws, making it a one-point game, before Kotti again stole the ball from Pace. But Kotti couldn’t handle a pass underneath and Pace converted at the other end to extend the Friars’ lead to 69-66 with 1:22 left.
Providence cut it to one point again when Gomes rebounded Brewington’s missed 3 and made his second attempt at a putback.
Pace again extended the lead to three points, driving to the basket before pulling up on the side of the lane and hitting a one-hander with 23 seconds left.
“We took their best shot,” Syracuse guard Gerry McNamara said. “They hit some big shots down the stretch to get them back in the game, but we maintained our composure. This is the Big East, and we know everyone is tough on their home court.”
Brewington missed another 3 and Warrick got the rebound, forcing Providence to foul McNamara with 9.4 seconds left. After missing the first free throw, McNamara made the second to make it 72-68.
Brewington was fouled on his way to the basket and completed the three-point play to cut the deficit to one point with 4.1 seconds left. But McNamara made both free throws with 3.3 seconds left to make it 74-71, and Warrick pulled down White’s errant inbounds pass near midcourt.
He was fouled and made the second of two free throws to make it 75-71.
McNamara drew the attention of the Providence defense and dished off eight assists but scored just 10 points.
Donnie McGrath was 1-for-12 from the field as the Friars shot just 41 percent compared to 59 percent for the Orange.