McNamara's trey lifts No. 19 Syracuse over Irish in wild ending
By MATT LOZAR
A 12-point lead with under 12 minutes remaining, a chance to hand Syracuse its first home loss of the year, and a shot at gaining solo possession of first place in the Big East West Division were there for the Irish.
Opportunity knocked, but the Irish didn't answer.
Syracuse freshman guard Gerry McNamara nailed a wide-open 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining and Notre Dame couldn't get a good shot off in a crazy finish as the Orangemen defeated the Irish 82-80 Saturday.
"We showed man-to-man and pulled back to a zone and kind of lost him. That's my fault. We should have played man-to-man on that possession, I really kick myself," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "I don't think I put my guys in a great position there. We were trying to go back to zone but we got so [Carmelo] Anthony-distracted and we lost [McNamara]."
After McNamara's shot, the Irish came right back and put the ball in the hands of their senior leader. Matt Carroll drove the lane looking for a foul but his shot was partially blocked. Syracuse forward Hakim Warrick threw the ball straight into the air, thinking the game was over, but six seconds remained.
"I didn't have a clue," Warrick said. "I threw it up and I kept listening for the horn to go off. It didn't go off and I was like, `Uh-oh.'"
Notre Dame forward Dan Miller couldn't get control of the ball when it hit the ground and time expired.
Syracuse (17-4, 8-3 in the Big East) improved to 14-0 at home and moved into first place of the Big East's West Division in front of the largest crowd to see a Division I college basketball game this year — 32,116.
Up one at halftime, Notre Dame (19-5, 7-3) took advantage of the fast tempo to start the second half. In the first eight minutes, Carroll and sophomore guard Chris Thomas combined to hit five 3-pointers and give the Irish a 67-55 lead.
"I didn't want this team to lose and I was just doing everything I could to prevent it from happening," Carroll said. "But it wasn't enough."
Freshman sensation Anthony brought the Orangemen back and scored 10 of his game-high 26 points on Syracuse's 14-2 run that tied the game at 69.
Notre Dame and Syracuse traded baskets and with the game tied at 77, Anthony used a finger roll to put the Orangemen up 79-77. Carroll nailed a 3-pointer with 26.2 seconds remaining before McNamara made the game-winner.
Carroll led the Irish with 22 points and 9 rebounds. Thomas scored 16, was 6-for-13 from the field and had six assists.
As a team, the Irish were 12-for-26 on 3-pointers with Carroll, Thomas and Miller each making four treys.
The Irish jumped out early going 3-for-4 from behind the arc to take an early 10-4 lead. Syracuse responded with a 19-6 run and went ahead 23-16. But the Irish came right back and scored six straight points to pull within one.
Despite committing 10 first-half turnovers due to Syracuse's aggressive 2-3 zone, the Irish were able to stay close. Miller hit a 3-pointer as time expired to give the Irish a 39-38 advantage at the break.
All Sports Stories for Monday, February 17, 2003