Tyler Ennis, meet Pearl Washington, fellow Syracuse buzzer-beater

Bye-bye, Boston College, circa 1984. (From YouTube)

Bye-bye, Boston College, circa 1984. (From YouTube)

Quickly after Tyler Ennis hit the bread-and-butter three-pointer to lift Syracuse over Pittsburgh to remain unbeaten and No.1 in men’s college basketball Wednesday night, Orange fans were recalling the exploits of another freshman point guard.

Dwayne “Pearl” Washington was the big deal when he moved north from Brooklyn to attend Syracuse in 1983, culminating a big battle for the prize recruit.

On Jan. 21, 1984, Dwayne forever became ‘Pearl.’

The freshman sank a half-court bomb to beat Boston College.

The Carrier Dome was so loud I couldn’t hear the guy sitting next to me.

Basketball beat writer David Elfin and I had perfect seats to see the shot go through the basket. He would write the game story for the morning paper. I, the assistant sports editor, would write a column.

But first we had to put our hands over our heads and duck as the fans climbed over us, over the table, and onto the court to dance and celebrate.

Pearl Washington recounts  his half-court game-winner from 1984.

Pearl Washington recounts his half-court game-winner from 1984.

You can say that Ennis’ shorter shot Wednesday night carries more importance, lifting his team to a record of 24-0, 11-0 in its first year in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Syracuse fans celebrated, on social media this time. Ennis’ hit his shot in Pittsburgh, and Central New Yorkers were left to witness it on ESPN. It added another charm on the bracelet of a season that’s included rallies, steady play and the instant classic overtime thriller over Duke that fans around the country are calling the best game in ages.

Thirty years ago, Washington hit his shot in front of 30,293 fans in the dome to give Syracuse a 75-73 victory. The three-pointer had not yet made its way into the college game yet. This one would have went into overtime if not for the heave.

The win kept Syracuse unbeaten in the Big East Conference, a game ahead of rival Georgetown. The Orange went on to a 12-4 league record and finished the season 23-9, falling to Virginia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. That was the Sweet Sixteen back then.

Washington led Orange to seasons of 22-9 and 26-6 the following two campaigns, leaving after his junior season and becoming a first-round pick by the New Jersey Nets.

The season thereafter, freshmen Derrick Coleman and Sherman Douglas arrived, and Syracuse made it to the NCAA championship game before falling to Indiana on Keith Smart’s last-second corner jumper.

There is a history of freshman doing big things for Syracuse.

Sixteen years after Coleman and Douglas, a pair of freshmen by the names of Carmelo Anthony and Gerry McNamara led Syracuse and coach Jim Boeheim to the school’s first national championship.

Add Wednesday night’s shot by Ennis to the first-year lore.

Next stop: 3 p.m. Saturday in the Carrier Dome against North Carolina State. This season becomes more interesting by the game.

Here’s the link to the YouTube clip of Dwayne “Pearl” Washington’s current interview and 30-year-old halfcourt shot to lift Syracuse over Boston College.


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