Despite unprecedented shooting from three and a balanced scoring attack, Notre Dame captured its first in-conference win over Syracuse basketball.
Syracuse basketball entered Saturday afternoon in hopes of handing Notre Dame their third-straight conference loss, and in return, win their fourth in a row and fifth in their last six games.
Both Syracuse and Notre Dame entered the contest cognisant of how the three-ball would determine the winner in the Carrier Dome, and it did.
Out of the gate, a corner three from Buddy Boeheim and a contested three from Joe Girard just two possessions apart went quickly unnoticed after a four-point play and transition three from T.J. Gibbs took the SU crowd out of things early.
Gibbs, who had 10 of his teams 12 points in less than five minutes of play, single-handedly put Notre Dame up six early.
Despite making half of their attempts from long range early on, the Orange were shooting just 2-for-8 from long range early on, and couldn’t find any scoring opportunities down low large in part to an 0-4 start for Marek Dolezaj.
Syracuse responded quickly. Boeheim cut the SU deficit to 13-9 with another made three, and after a quick Notre Dame turnover, Bourama Sidibe took charge on the offensive board.
With 14:24 remaining, Sidibe grabbed his fifth rebound of the game, and put the ball in, cutting the Irish lead to just two.
Following a pair of unanswered buckets from the Irish, Syracuse fell victim to yet another three and was down 20-11.
Dolezaj regains momentum
Dolezaj, who has scored 10 or more in his last seven games, cut the deficit to eight after finally getting to the free-throw line.
Less than a minute later, the Slovakian grabbed a rebound, and went coast-to-coast for a commanding lay-in, extending his point total to three.
The quick turnaround for Dolezaj revived his confidence following the slow start and brought the Orange crowd back into the mix.
A quick three from the Irish out of the break was quickly matched from an excellent midrange jumper from Joe Girard. On the next possession, a forced turnover by Dolezaj ended up resulting in an easy score for him under the basket on the other end.
Instead of letting Irish big man John Mooney jump with him, Dolezaj used his hips to gain a favorable angle during drives under the basket, giving him better chances of scoring inside throughout the first half.
Another basket from midrange suddenly meant seven points for Dolezaj on 3-of-7 shooting after going 0-for-4 to start things.
Elijah Hughes gets involved:
After Dolezaj saved the game from getting out of hand, a pair of threes and strong score on the drive put Hughes up to eight points on 3-of-5 shooting, and the Orange’s unexpected 14-5 run and overall 5-for-10 start from three knotted the game at 28 with seven minutes to play.
Out of the break, an up-and-under from Hughes gave the Orange a 30-28 lead that would become a 32-28 lead after a pair of free throws from Quincy Guerrier.
A sudden change of pace and effort from the Orange on both ends changed the momentum of the game. Another Hughes bucket extended the Orange lead to six, and the Irish Offense was held scoreless for four minutes thanks to stifling zone defense adjustments from Jim Boeheim.
Following a pair of Irish scores, and a response three from Boeheim, the Irish tied things up at 37 on the other end after Nate Laszewski took advantage of a slacking Syracuse perimeter zone. On the ensuing possession, Guerrier hit a miracle bank-in-three with less than a minute to play and the Orange entered the break with a three-point lead.
Following what was supposed to be a brief exit from the game for Irish guard Rex Pflueger following a late first-half collision at mid-court, he would end up sitting out the rest of the game.
The first minute of the second frame saw Mooney and Dolezaj trade baskets. A corner three from Mooney three minutes into the half cut the Syracuse lead to just one.
Two possessions later, after another Irish three put Syracuse down two, another coast-to-coast effort from Dolezaj knotted things up with just over 15 minutes to play. After the Irish reclaimed the lead, Dolezaj put in another mid-range jumper, and with that, his sixth make in seven attempts since starting the game 0-for-4 from the floor.
Buddy Boeheim shoots the roof off of the Dome:
Another three-pointer from the Irish with 14 minutes to go extended the Orange deficit to five before Boeheim hit his fourth three of the game and forcing a turnover on the ensuing Irish possession.
Another three for Boeheim followed by a steal-and-score from Elijah Hughes suddenly had the Orange up three, a lead that would last just 10 seconds thanks to yet another three from the Irish.
Three baskets including two three-pointers from Notre Dame capped off an 11-0 run for the Irish that put the Orange down five with just under 10 minutes to play.
After a pair of Hughes free throws cut the SU deficit to six, Sidibe re-entered the game, and with him, came the Orange’s full-court press.
After a strong defensive stand, a great pass from Dolezaj to a wide-open Boeheim resulted in his sixth three of the game just a three-point deficit for the Orange. After another defensive stand, a deep three-pointer from Hughes knotted things up at 64.
With 6:47 to play, down three, Boeheim hit a contested three, his seventh of the game in 11 attempts.
Joe Girard takes over:
With 5-and-a-half to go, a taunting technical foul on Prentiss Hubb awarded Girard two free throws. After making both, the Orange went up 71-70. On the next possession, Girard hit a remarkable stepback jumper over Hubb. Less than a minute later, Hubb and Girard traded threes before the freshman out of Glenn Falls hit a straightaway three from well beyond the three.
With just under two to play, a putback dunk from Guerrier was quickly matched by a Hubb three, and the game was tied at 84 with a minute to play.
After a Mooney score, Elijah Hughes’ drive to the hoop came up short, and Hubb was sent to the line, made both, and put the Orange down four before Girard hit a three as time expired, and came up just short in a coming-out party for the Orange offense at home.
- Syracuse’s offense shot a remarkable 31-of-63 (49% from the floor) and made 48% of their attempts from three.
- Buddy Boeheim (23 Points, five rebounds, 7-for-12 from three), Joe Girard (20 points, 6-for-12 from the floor), Elijah Hughes (19 points, five rebounds, five assists) and Marek Dolezaj (13 points, nine rebounds, six assists) all put together complete performances.
- Freshman forward Quincy Guerrier put together his best performance of the season: 10 points, five rebounds and three blocks on perfect 3-for-3 shooting from the floor.
The 8-6 Orange will look to get back on track when they host Virginia Tech on January 7th.