SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)—Syracuse was itching for a close game, and Hofstra was more than willing to oblige.
The Pride (9-1) drained a dozen 3-pointers, made over half their shots and led most of the game Thursday night, but the seventh-ranked Orange rallied late behind Hakim Warrick, Gerry McNamara and Terrence Roberts for an 80-75 victory.
It was the closest finish of the season for Syracuse (13-1). Only one of the Orange’s victories this season has been by fewer than 13 points, 56-45 over Princeton in the second game of the season.
“Absolutely, we needed a game that was close, especially going into the Big East next week,” said McNamara, who had 17 points, six assists and one turnover despite missing his first seven shots. “To be able to execute late in the game is key. We made the right plays down the stretch.”
Warrick had 29 points, one off his career high, and Roberts came off the bench to finish with a career-best 20 points and nine rebounds.
Antoine Agudio had 17 points, Carlos Rivera 16 and Loren Stokes 15 for the Pride, who rallied from nine points back and came within 74-73 on a 3 by Mike Radziejewski with 1:41 left.
Warrick, called for traveling seconds earlier, converted a crucial three-point play 15 seconds later to boost the lead to four, but a tip by Adrian Uter moved the Pride back within a basket with 46.5 seconds left.
Roberts, who was 8-for-8 from the field, then fed Warrick for a one-hand slam dunk with 14.3 seconds left and the Orange survived the Pride’s prolific three-guard attack.
“We tried to find a way to win it at the end there,” Hofstra coach Tom Pecora said. “But they ended up getting eight more shot opportunities in the game than we did because of their offensive rebounding. And we had a couple of poor timely turnovers at the end.
“We came in knowing it was going to be tough attacking that zone,” Pecora said. “I’m proud of the way my guys played, but I want to win that basketball game. We let them slip away.”
It was only the second meeting between the teams, and it was a battle all the way. The score was tied six times, and Syracuse trailed until McNamara led a 15-4 surge that put the Orange ahead by nine.
After Stokes hit a 3 from the top of the key to put Hofstra up 61-59 midway through the second half as the Hofstra bench stood and applauded, McNamara hit a 3 from the left wing to send Syracuse on its run. Warrick then fed Roberts for a two-hand slam dunk. Roberts was fouled on the play and swished the free throw for a 65-61 lead.
Warrick had two dunks, Louie McCroskey hit a jumper and McNamara came back with another 3 to complete the surge, which gave Syracuse a 74-65 lead with 5:25 left.
“We tried to go out and attack the rim,” Warrick said. “I think they did a good job of getting a body on me and Terrence took advantage.”
That seemed to put the game out of reach, but the Pride were hardly intimidated and far from done. Josh Pace traveled, McCroskey missed a 3, and Uter blocked Warrick’s shot in the lane before Agudio hit another 3 to make it 74-70 with 3:28 left.
“We played hard, we made some big shots,” Stokes said. “But they put it away at the end. They executed a little better at the end.”
Hofstra shot 50.9 percent and matched the Orange with 32 rebounds. Syracuse shot 49.2 percent for the game and held a 17-13 edge on the offensive glass.
The game was tied at 38 at halftime, and Hofstra forged ahead early in the second by hitting eight of its first 12 shots, including five 3s. A 3-pointer from the right corner by Agudio gave the Pride a 56-52 lead at 13:06.
“We were there, but any time they needed a play, he (Warrick) stepped up, and that’s what great ones do, and he is that,” Pecora said.