PHILADELPHIA (AP)—For one night free throw shooting in the Big East turned upside down.
No. 17 Syracuse, last in the 16-team league in that stat at 65.5 percent, made the foul shots that counted Monday night in a 69-64 victory over No. 15 Villanova, the conference’s best team at 76.8 percent.
Scoop Jardine and Rick Jackson—a couple of Philly kids—combined for 38 points and freshman Dion Waiters, another Philadelphia product, and Jackson made the final free throws that sealed the win.
“We’ve been pretty good at the end of games,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “We’ve been pretty good when we need them and tonight we needed them.”
Jardine had 20 points and six assists for the Orange (23-6, 10-6), while Jackson had 18 points, five rebounds and four blocks.
The win was the sixth this season over a ranked team for Syracuse, tying it with No. 5 Texas for the most in the nation.
The teams swapped road wins, with Villanova winning 83-72 at Syracuse on Jan. 22.
“After they beat us like that with all those 3s (11), we got them off their spots and our guards did a great job of staying in front of them,” Jackson said.
Corey Stokes returned from missing three games because of a turf toe injury to lead the Wildcats (21-7, 9-6) with 24 points, including matching his season high with five 3-pointers.
“I felt great,” Stokes said. “It’s always good to be back on the floor with your teammates. We just have to work on our defense and get better.”
It was at the free throw line where the teams traded places.
Villanova was 17 of 27 at the line. Stokes, third in the nation at 93.5 percent, went 5 of 8.
Syracuse went 13 of 17 from the line, a performance topped off by Waiters making two with 14.1 seconds left for a 67-64 lead, and Jackson making two—the second a bank shot—with 4.6 seconds to go for the final margin.
“I had to make up for the one I missed,” Waiters said of the missed front end of a 1-and-1 with 37 seconds left and the Orange up by three. “I got myself together and said `Come on, kid, these are the shots you want to take. Get to the line and knock them down.”’
Corey Fisher, coming off a career-high 34 points in Villanova’s overtime win at DePaul on Saturday, finished with eight points on 3-of-16 shooting, including missing all eight of his 3-point attempts. Maalik Wayns, who was bothered by back spasms after taking a hard fall in the second half, had four points on 1-of-9 shooting and missed all three of his 3-point attempts.
“Those are shots I usually make,” said Fisher, who was 15 of 22 in his previous two games. “My teammates kept telling me to shoot. I’m going to keep shooting with confidence. They’ll fall. That’s what the next game is for. That’s what the next practice is for.”
Syracuse took a 55-47 lead with 9:05 to play on two free throws by Jackson.
Villanova went on a 9-2 run—five points by Stokes—to get within 57-56 with 5:28 to play.
Jardine made a free throw and a 3 to make it a five-point game.
The Wildcats were able to get within one two more times, the second at 65-64 on two free throws by Isaiah Armwood with 21.7 seconds to go.
Waiters and Jackson sandwiched their clinching free throws around a turnover by Villanova.
“It was not a pretty game and we haven’t been playing very good basketball,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “We’re just a little off. We get one player back and another goes out.
“Scoop and Jackson were great it was like a home game for them.”
It was Jackson’s last collegiate game in his native city.
“I’d like to think I went out with a bang here,” he said, sitting shirtless in the locker room with “South” tattooed on his right shoulder and “Philly” on his left.
Boeheim wrapped it up by saying, “The difference was the Philly guys.”
Brandon Triche had 11 points and seven rebounds for the Orange, who shot 47.3 percent for the game (26 of 55).
Armwood had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Antonio Pena had seven points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats, who shot 32.2 percent (21 for 65) for the game and 5 of 26 on 3s (19.2 percent).
The last 30 seconds of the first half went as badly as it could for Syracuse.
The Orange had a 29-22 lead and Jardine was walking the ball down court, apparently ready to run some time off the clock.
His pass to the right wing was intercepted by Wayns, who went in for a layup and was fouled by Jardine, his third. Wayns missed the free throw but the Wildcats got the rebound. Fisher missed a 3 but Armwood grabbed the rebound and was fouled by Kris Joseph, his third.
Armwood made the first and missed the second but Triche was called for a lane violation. Armwood missed but again Triche was called for another lane violation. As the refs were signaling the play, Syracuse’s Baye Moussa Keita was called for a technical foul.
Stokes made one of two on the technical and Armwood finally made his second.
The half ended with Syracuse up just 29-27.
“I was on the bench. I thought it was crazy,” Jackson said. “Guys step in and refs don’t say nothing and that goes both ways. Once a ref calls it you’re not going to change it. Nothing you can do about it so move on.”