Short work: Syracuse needs just one overtime
NEW YORK - Syracuse went five more minutes instead of five more overtimes.
The 18th-ranked Orange, less than 24 hours after winning the second-longest Division 1 game ever, played just one extra period in a 74-69 victory over West Virginia last night in the semifinals of the Big East tournament.
Instead of people running for the history books as they did after Syracuse beat Connecticut, 127-117, in six overtimes in the quarterfinals, the Orange had a sellout crowd at Madison Square Garden shaking their heads when regulation ended in a tie.
The Orange (26-8) will face top-seeded and fifth-ranked Louisville in the championship game tonight.
Eric Devendorf had 23 points for sixth-seeded Syracuse. Jonny Flynn had 15 points and nine assists.
Freshman Devin Ebanks, who sent the game into overtime with two free throws with 4.8 seconds left in regulation, had 22 points and Da'Sean Butler added 21 for the seventh-seeded Mountaineers (23-11).
Unlike Thursday's game, when Syracuse took its only lead after regulation at the start of the sixth OT, the Orange took the lead right away in the only one last night when Devendorf found Paul Harris for a layup 35 seconds in to make it 65-63. Flynn scored on a drive and added two free throws to make it 69-63.
Louisville 69, Villanova 55 - Earl Clark scored 17 points and the fifth-ranked Cardinals turned up the pressure in the second half with two big runs to beat the No. 10 Wildcats and reach the tournament final for the first time.
Jerry Smith added 16 points for the Cardinals (27-5), who snapped out of a shooting funk from beyond the arc by hitting 13 3-pointers in winning their ninth straight game.
Louisville will try for its first conference tournament title since 2005, when the school was still a member of Conference USA.
Meanwhile, it was another disappointing tournament for Villanova, which hasn't won consecutive games here since 2004 and hasn't reached the tournament final since 1997.
Dante Cunningham and Corey Fisher scored 14 each to lead Villanova, but the Wildcats couldn't solve the intense full-court pressure Louisville coach Rick Pitino slapped on them after halftime.