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McNamara scores 26 points for Orangemen

2/1/2004

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Even without Carmelo Anthony at his side,
Gerry McNamara can still play the point.

With starting point guard Billy Edelin out of the lineup for
personal reasons, McNamara took his place and scored 26 points to
lead Syracuse (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP) past Virginia Tech 76-64 Saturday night.

Hobbled by a sore left groin, McNamara scored only 14 points in
the Orangemen's previous two games to drop his average to 16.5
points per game. But Syracuse hadn't played in a week and McNamara
took advantage of the break to recover. He was 6-for-14 on
3-pointers to help send the Hokies (8-10, 1-6 Big East) to their
fifth straight loss.

"Gerry had a good week of practice and got a lot of shots up,"
said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who used McNamara as the starting
point guard on last year's national championship team after Edelin
was suspended by the NCAA for the first 12 games of the season.

"He was aggressive tonight, and that's the way he has to
play," Boeheim said.

McNamara, who had played shooting guard all season, also had
five assists, and Hakim Warrick added 15 points and seven assists.
Josh Pace had 12 points and six assists, and freshman swingman
Demetris Nichols added 12 points in his first start for the
Orangemen.

Jamon Gordon led the Hokies with 21 points. Bryant Matthews, the
Big East's leading scorer at 24 points per game, finished with 18
but had only five rebounds before fouling out.

It was a nice rebound for the Orangemen (14-3, 4-2), who had
lost two straight, including an embarrassing 66-45 setback at home
last week to No. 7 Pittsburgh.

Syracuse gained control right from the opening tip as the Hokies
struggled to find any holes in the Orangemen's 2-3 zone defense.
Matthews, fifth in the nation in scoring, didn't get his first
points until he hit two free throws at 9:47.

With a little help from his teammates, Nichols scored the
Orangemen's first two baskets. McNamara followed with a 3-pointer
from the top of the key and Pace hit a floater in the lane for a
9-0 lead at 16:20.

"I definitely looked for him early to get him involved, give
him some confidence and get him going," Warrick said, referring to
Nichols. "He didn't show it, but I know he was nervous because I
was when I was a freshman. He played really aggressive tonight and
was a big part of our win."

Syracuse, which led by as many as 23, gained a 44-26 lead at
halftime while holding the Hokies to 34.5 percent shooting. But
Virginia Tech went on a 15-2 run early in the second half to
briefly make a game of it.

Bryan Randall, the quarterback on the football team, began the
spurt with a 3-pointer from the top of the key at 17:49, Gordon
converted a three-point play and Matthews added six points.

Randall stole the ball from Warrick in the lane and fed Zabian
Dowdell for a fast-break layup to pull Virginia Tech to 51-45 at
13:17.

"I was extremely disappointed with the way our team competed in
the first 15 minutes," Hokies coach Seth Greenberg said. "But I
was really proud of our guys and their ability to get back in the
game."

The Orangemen regrouped after a timeout and pulled away. Warrick
fed Pace for a layup to begin a 12-2 spurt. McNamara then hit
Warrick for an alley-oop dunk before nailing a 3-pointer at 10:39
to boost the lead back to 59-47.

Edelin, who had started every game this season, will not play
for an indefinite period. He did not practice all week but was in
uniform for the game and sat on the bench.

Despite the victory, Edelin's steadying influence and 14.4
points per game were missed. They will be again when the Orangemen
go on the road for two games starting Monday night at No. 6
Connecticut.

"It's going to be tough, but it's just something we've got to
get through," Warrick said. "We've just got to come together more
as a team."