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'Cuse trounces Siena in return to Pepsi Arena

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Gerry McNamara did it all for Syracuse (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 4 AP), scoring 29 points and making the first dunk of his
college career. And he even managed to survive a couple of headlong
dives, one of which left him sprawled in the Siena band.

Hakim Warrick and Josh Pace each added 13 points Saturday to
lead the Orange to a 78-56 victory over Siena. Syracuse took an
18-2 lead in the first five minutes and led comfortably the rest of
the way.

McNamara, Syracuse's best outside shooter, paced the early surge
with a layup and a dunk after a steal and court-long dash. He then
completed a four-point play after hitting his 200th career
3-pointer.

The scrappy Saints, who had 12 steals, regrouped and rallied
back to 23-14 on a 3-pointer from the left wing by Tay Fisher, who
finished with 12 points. But every time Siena seemed on the verge
of making it a game, McNamara struck back.

"I pride myself in making the ones when I need to. When you
jump on a team early and keep them there, it's not too bad," said
McNamara, who leaped out of bounds for loose balls in the second
half, toppling a photographer once and landing in the Siena band
the other time.

"We didn't expect to destroy these guys, not in the least. We
knew that they were a good team. Coach said not to underestimate
them, they have a couple of losses, but in every loss a little dry
spell cost them."

That dry spell occurred early in this one, but over the final 35
minutes Syracuse outscored Siena by only 60-54.

"It had a funny feeling. It was kind of a close game the whole
game," said Warrick, who also had 15 rebounds and three steals.
"If we were up 15 or 17, it never felt like that. It always felt
like they were a few shots from tying it or being right back in the
game."

It was the first time Syracuse had played in the building in
which it beat Auburn and Oklahoma to earn a berth in the Final Four
on the way to winning the 2003 national championship.

"I could live in here," said McNamara, who was 6-for-14 on
3-pointers. "That's the way I felt last time. It's fun to be
back."

The win was the 29th straight for Syracuse (5-0) against
in-state foes and sent Siena (0-5) to its worst start. Siena shot
32.3 percent and was outrebounded 54-29.

"We're disappointed with the loss," said Michael Haddix, who
led Siena with 15 points and five rebounds. "But they're a great
team, and at times we showed we were capable of being right there
with them, so we took some good points out of this."

Fisher's third 3-pointer of the opening half helped narrow the
Syracuse lead to 31-20 with 7:33 left before halftime.

But Warrick converted a one-handed slam dunk, then corralled a
miss and tossed it back to McNamara, who drained a 3 from the right
wing to boost the lead back to 16. A jumper in the lane by Pace
gave the Orange a 44-24 lead.

"We did a good job defensively the whole game," Syracuse coach
Jim Boeheim said. "We didn't identify Fisher a couple of times,
but we did a good job on Haddix. Siena is off to a rough start, but
they might win some more games than people might think."

The Saints, who trailed 46-31 at the break, never were closer
than 12 in the second half.