Despite a strong second half hustle by the #24 Orange, #12 Villanova held on for an 89-86 victory in the Carrier Dome Sunday afternoon. The third largest crowd in college basketball this season, 26,879 fans, cheered on the Orange as juniors Eric Devendorf and Paul Harris led SU in scoring with 22 and 21 points, respectively. Junior Andy Rautins was third on the squad with 18 points, while adding five assists. Sophomore Jonny Flynn rounded out the top Syracuse scorers with 12 points and a game-high eight assists. Senior Kristof Ongenaet was the team leader in rebounds, pulling down 11 and registering two blocks. Syracuse was down seven with a minute to play, but five points by Eric Devendorf sandwiched around a couple of Villanova turnovers got the Orange within two with 15 seconds left. The Wildcats made one of two at the free throw line, giving the Orange a chance to tie. They actually had four chances, missing four three pointers in the final ten seconds. The last of which by Flynn, who missed a fairly open look from the corner as time ran out. Syracuse only trailed by six after the first period, but layups from Wildcats Shane Clark and Reggie Redding put the Orange down by 10 less than two minutes into the second. A 19-7 run by the Orange sparked by a second-chance layup from Flynn would give SU its first lead since the 18:43 mark of the first half. Rautins sank two-straight three-pointers at the close of the run giving the Orange the advantage, 59-57. Villanova was not deterred, however, and the Wildcats were back up by nine, 68-59, midway through the half. Nova tallied 11 consecutive points capped off by dunks from Dante Cunningham and Dwayne Anderson to take back control of the game. Syracuse fought back to within three, 72-69, after treys from Rautins and Flynn and a foul line trip for two points from Harris. The Wildcats kept it out of reach though maintaining at least a five-point edge until a three-pointer from Devendorf made it 88-84 with 32 seconds until the buzzer. A turnover by Scottie Reynolds let Devendorf score a bucket to make it a one-possession game. Rautins fouled Redding in an effort to stop the clock and Redding went 1-for-2 from the line to make it a three-point game. Despite four three-pointer attempts in the last 10 seconds, the Orange was unable to tie the game. Villanova was solid from the field for the entire game shooting 54.8 percent (17-31) in the first and 50.0 percent (15-of-30) in the second. SU was a solid 55.2 percent (16-29) after the first frame, but only shot 39 percent (16-41) in the second. Harris opened the game for SU with a layup for two of his 13 first half points. Nova answered with two trifectas from VU’s Anderson sandwiching a jumper from Cunningham for a slim 10-7 four minutes in. Devendorf put home a jumper to bring SU within one, but 10 straight Wildcat points put Villanova up 20-9 with 12:50 left in the first. A layup and free throw from Devendorf with a three from Rautins put the Orange within seven, 22-15, a little less than two minutes later. The two teams traded baskets with a bucket from Devendorf and a Rautins three-pointer keeping the Villanova lead in single-digits. Villanova went on to grab its largest lead of the first frame, 32-20, at the 7:46 mark after back-to-back jumpers from Corey Fisher and Cunningham. Following a basket from Harris, Ongenaet blocked a Cunningham layup to give Orange possession. Syracuse then rallied within two, 39-37, on a run capped off by a Flynn three-pointer at the 3:08 mark. Two more buckets from Cunningham had VU back up by six with 1:46 to play, but a Harris trey off a pass from Flynn made it a three-point game, 43-40. During the final minute of play, Fisher put the Wildcats back up by six to end the half after two successful trips to the foul line for three points. Anderson was the leading scorer for the Orange with 22 points, while Clark contributed 15. Cunningham posted a double-double for the Wildcats with 12 points and 12 boards for the afternoon. The Orange head to Madison Square Garden on February 24 for a Tuesday evening matchup with St. John’s. SU will return to the Dome for back-to-back matches with Cincinnati on March 1 and Rutgers on March 3.