The best game of Malachi Richardson’s career was painfully incomplete

first_img Published on January 6, 2016 at 12:34 am Contact Jesse: jcdoug01@syr.edu | @dougherty_jesse Related Stories Mike Hopkins after loss to Clemson: ‘I’m not a loser’Fast reaction: 3 takeaways from Syracuse’s 74-73 overtime loss to ClemsonSyracuse community reacts to loss against ClemsonGrade Syracuse’s performance against Clemson and vote for the player of the game The whole Carrier Dome counted down the final seconds of the shot clock. The whole Syracuse bench stood and yelled at Malachi Richardson to shoot. The whole game had, to that point, boiled into a one-possession battle in the final minutes and the freshman was trapped in the corner with no other options but to throw a prayer at the rim.So that’s what he did, and his turnaround fadeaway jumper arced toward the stadium’s ceiling before swishing through the net. He turned to the bench and yelled back at them, his celebration answering their panic. And after Clemson sunk two free throws and Richardson earned a pair of foul shots of his own, he again had the game at his fingertips with 18 seconds left in regulation.Richardson calmly made the first free throw, bumping the Orange’s lead to three. Then the Tigers called a timeout and Richardson’s game-sealing free-throw attempt rolled off the rim. Clemson raced down the court, worked the ball around and Gabe DeVoe hit a game-tying 3 to force overtime. Five minutes later, Clemson (9-6, 2-1 Atlantic Coast) escaped with a 74-73 win over SU (10-6, 0-3) in the Carrier Dome on Tuesday.One moment the freshman was the hero. The next moment, he wasn’t.“If I make the free throw, the second free throw after the timeout, we win the game,” Richardson said in a hushed voice after the game. “I gave them a chance, they nailed a 3, took it to overtime, we didn’t get enough stops, and they were able to win the game. It was a close one that we gave away out there.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textFor 39 minutes — before the acrobatic 3, missed free throw at the end of regulation and eventual Tigers win — Richardson flashed his latent potential without making “freshman” mistakes. He’d made 3-of-10 shots, but was 3-of-5 from 3. He had nine rebounds, which he finished with and is a career-high, including a clutch offensive board with two minutes left that earned him two shots at the line.But he’ll mostly remember his 16th career game for what he didn’t do, even if he added a 3 in overtime and scored a career-high 21 points on his 20th birthday. The missed free throw is why his eyes stayed on the ground as he answered questions from a crowd of reporters after the game. The miss free throw will be his most important shot of his young career until he has another chance to give SU the conference win that’s eluded it so far.And with the way this season has gone, with Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney demanding attention at all times, Richardson may not have to wait long for that opportunity.“You learn from it. It’s tough, I mean, he hasn’t been in that situation before in his life,” Cooney said. “He’s a big-time player and he’ll be in that situation again, and I guarantee he knocks it down next time.” Commentscenter_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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