The home side returned knowing they had to be much, much better, and they started encouragingly with Fabio Borini winning an early free-kick which Larsson saw deflected over the bar. From the resulting corner, Bardsley and team-mate O’Shea collided, leaving the Republic of Ireland international nursing a shoulder injury which needed treatment on and then off the field. But his side had a glorious opportunity to take the lead when Cattermole picked out the unmarked Brown beyond the far post and he controlled before stabbing the ball inside to Ondrej Celustka. The full-back looked odds-on to score, but he delayed and Johan Elmander managed to bundle the ball behind with the home fans appealing in vain for a penalty for his challenge. But as the Black Cats committed men to the search for the opening goal, they put the Canaries under pressure and they almost cracked with 64 minutes gone when full-back Steven Whittaker thumped and attempted clearance against team-mate Michael Turner and the ball dropped into the path of Borini. However, as he waited for it to settle, the cover arrived and he eventually prodded his shot tamely at the keeper. But Hooper should really have put Norwich ahead four minutes later when Robert Snodgrass picked him out at the far post unopposed, only to see him head wide. Sunderland boss Gus Poyet decided the time was right to replace Altidore with Steven Fletcher, and the newcomer might have made his mark almost immediately when Bardsley flicked Larsson’s 70th-minute corner towards him. The Scotland international could not make meaningful contact, but when Turner’s sliced clearance dropped to Brown at the far post, he headed against the outside of the upright. Norwich should have taken an 82nd-minute lead when van Wolfswinkel was played in on goal, but could not beat Mannone. But Poyet was left with his head in his hands seconds later when Ruddy rushed from his box but was beaten to the ball by Borini, who squared for Ki. Turner got back on to the line with his keeper hopelessly stranded, but the South Korea international lifted his shot from 20 yards over the bar, and the home side’s fortunes took a further turn for the worst at the death when Brown saw red for hacking his way through van Wolfswinkel from behind. Gus Poyet was left facing a bleak Christmas as 10-man Sunderland’s must-win clash with Norwich ended goalless. The Black Cats, who dumped Chelsea out of the Capital One Cup in midweek to book a place in the semi-finals, could not repeat the dose when they needed it most to leave themselves firmly rooted to the foot of the Barclays Premier League table. Sunderland have now won just four of their last 32 league games, and a paltry tally of 10 points from their opening 17 fixtures of the season leaves them in pole position to slip out of the top flight unless they can engineer a major fightback. Press Association Defender Wes Brown, sent off in stoppage time for a foul on substitute Ricky van Wolfswinkel, came closest to a winner when he hit the outside of the post with a 57th-minute header, while Ki Sung-Yueng missed the target with Canaries keeper John Ruddy missing in action. But despite the Black Cats stretching Norwich repeatedly after the break, they were unable to find the breakthrough to leave the bulk of a crowd of 37,778 fearing the worst. Norwich had the better chances in a first half which saw neither goalkeeper unduly stretched. Canaries stopper Ruddy was not called upon until the 37th minute, when he had to get down well to claim a shot from distance from Phil Bardsley – the full-back remains the club’s joint-top scorer, a reflection of their difficulties. Vito Mannone was busier at the other end, turning away Nathan Redmond’s 13th-minute strike and then beating away a Gary Hooper piledriver five minutes before the break. Hooper had earlier been left kicking himself after John O’Shea had completely misjudged Martin Olsson’s left-wing cross, which hit the astonished striker in the chest before he could react. For their part, most of Sunderland’s efforts came from distance with Ki, Sebastian Larsson and Lee Cattermole all wayward before Bardsley tested Ruddy. However, the keeper was relieved to see Jozy Altidore’s deflected shot drop just wide of the far post after Brown had headed down Bardsley’s 36th-minute free-kick.
NEW YORK — Despite a torrid shooting performance by Cincinnati from beyond the arc, Syracuse still had a chance to complete its comeback. In fact, the Orange had multiple chances to do so throughout the second half.But the plays SU has made throughout the year that have allowed the team to survive multiple close games evaded the Orange Friday night.‘Every game that we’ve been in that situation, we’ve been able to make plays,’ head coach Jim Boeheim said. ‘And tonight we had somewhat easier plays, and we just didn’t make them.’No. 2 Syracuse (31-2) repeatedly made the plays to cut Cincinnati’s various leads down to one possession but couldn’t come up with the play to push it in front, ultimately falling to the Bearcats 71-68 in the Big East tournament semifinals at Madison Square Garden. A sellout crowd of 20,057 mostly Orange fans watched as Cincinnati (24-9) exploded out of the gates to build a 17-point lead thanks to an 8-of-10 start from beyond the arc.Led by Dion Waiters’ 28 points and 7-of-10 shooting from beyond the arc, SU mounted multiple comebacks throughout the second half. But the Orange could never hit the shot to even the game or take the lead and suffered its second loss of the year.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘We hate losing at the end of the day,’ Waiters said. ‘Our mindset coming into this tournament was just to win and continue to get better as a team. Nobody likes to lose.’Just like in the first matchup between these two teams, Cincinnati started the game on fire from 3-point range.Sean Kilpatrick opened the floodgates with a triple from the left wing two minutes in, and would go on to hit his first four 3s, including a bank shot from the right side. Junior Cashmere Wright joined Kilpatrick’s barrage, going 3-of-5 from deep to start the game as the Bearcats took a 34-17 lead with 5:45 left.Most of the 3s came from NBA range as Syracuse’s 2-3 zone failed to extend out on UC’s shooters.‘There’s certain adjustments you can make as a team,’ senior Kris Joseph said. ‘We just didn’t make them quick enough, soon enough. … It seemed like everything was going in for a while but we needed to make some adjustments, and we didn’t make them.’The 3s finally stopped falling for the Bearcats late in the first half and despite 31 percent shooting from the field, SU managed to go into halftime down by just 12.The teams went back and forth for the first 10 minutes of the second half before Syracuse put a dent in Cincinnati’s halftime lead. Waiters found Brandon Triche with a crosscourt pass and the junior knocked down a 3-pointer to make the score 51-44.The Orange went to a full-court press off the make, and C.J. Fair poked the ball away from Wright, eventually setting up Waiters at the charity stripe. The sophomore hit one of the free throws before Syracuse came up with a stop on Cincinnati’s next possession. Waiters then shook Dion Dixon with a behind-the-back dribble that made the Bearcats guard fall over and drained an open 3-pointer to cut the lead to 53-48.‘Dion Waiters put on an unbelievable show in the second half,’ Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin said. ‘He made some big-time shots to get them back in the game.’The Bearcats built the lead back up to eight three minutes later as SU committed two turnovers and missed an open look from deep. Once again, though, the Orange rallied, this time cutting the lead to just three points when Fab Melo slammed home a rebound on a fast break.But Cincinnati center Yancy Gates didn’t even cross half court on the possession and got an uncontested dunk just six seconds later. Joseph coughed up the ball on Syracuse’s next possession, and Melo was called for goaltending on a Dixon layup to push the lead back to seven.SU took two 3s on its next possession but couldn’t hit before Kilpatrick delivered the dagger. Cincinnati had gone ice cold from deep, hitting just one 3-pointer in a span of almost 23 minutes. But after a timeout, Kilpatrick planted himself in the left corner of the court and waited for his opportunity.‘Cashmere (Wright) just told me to stay in the corner and then Coach was telling me to go to the corner because Kris Joseph, he was going to come up and play Cash because Cash was hot as well throughout the game,’ Kilpatrick said. ‘Once he played Cash, I was just wide open.’Kilpatrick buried the open 3 to put Cincinnati up 10 with 1:47 left. Syracuse again made a furious rally to cut that lead to 71-68, knocking down three 3s in the final 36 seconds.But Waiters couldn’t get off a final half-court heave before the buzzer sounded and the Bearcats pulled off the upset.‘Every other game we’ve played has been very, very close, and we’ve made plays,’ Boeheim said. ‘And tonight, we just couldn’t make a key play.’[email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Published on March 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm