Cortland native Eamonn Mahar and the Bryant University men’s basketball team (5-1) stunned the Syracuse Orange (3-3) with a 73-72 victory on Saturday at the JMA Wireless Dome.
Senior Sherif Gross-Bullock dropped in the game-winning bucket with 0.8 seconds in regulation to help the Bulldogs edge the Orange.
“(This win) It feels great,” Mahar said. “It was a big win.” He continued, “it was great to come out on top.”
It was Mahar’s first win at the Dome. He fell short of a victory in the Dome during his playing career for the Cortland varsity boys basketball team, and when he was part of the Iona College coaching staff in 2017.
A large group of Mahar’s family and friends were at Saturday’s game. Once the contest ended, Mahar went into the crowd to find his father Buddy Mahar, a former Division I men’s basketball coach.
“My dad means everything to me. I was just ecstatic,” Eamonn Mahar said.
Things getting out of control up in Syracuse.
Cuse guard Judah Mintz slaps Bryant's Doug Edert and then Edert comes right back with a slap on Mintz as both benches clear.
Both players were ejected.@NBC10 pic.twitter.com/BikzSj1HWl
— Joe Kayata (@NBC10_Joe) November 26, 2022
Despite facing some adversity, Bryant pulled through to defeat Syracuse.
“You’re down men, and players are in foul trouble,” Mahar said. “It’s just a lot of emotion that goes into a game like that. Having the ability to come out on top after everything we went through, it was just surreal.”
The victory was also Bryant’s first versus Syracuse, and the second against a Power 5 conference team, when the Bulldogs defeated Boston College in 2012.
The Bulldogs last faced the Orange on Nov. 27, 2020. Bryant had a chance to win at the buzzer, but Syracuse escaped with a 85-84 victory. On Saturday, however, the game ended in the Bulldogs’ favor.
“You have to go into those games with a hit-first mentality,” Mahar said. “(The opponent) has to know that you’re there, whether they’re chasing it off the offensive glass or anything along that line. You have to come out and instigate that physicality. Coach (Grasso) does a great job of that.”
Mahar praised Coach Grasso and the Bulldogs’ squad and their efforts as they trek through the 2022-23 campaign.
“It’s a credit to Coach Grasso as to why we’re one of the hardest-working teams in the country. We proved that last night,” Mahar said. “We have a lot of players who are very talented and I think we have the best head coach in the country who will make our team play together and make them play hard.”
Bryant senior and Syracuse native Charles Pride finished with 13 points and six boards. He was a perfect 4-of-4 from the free-throw line and played all 40 minutes for the Bulldogs.