SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- When the size of the raucous orange-clad
Carrier Dome crowd was announced in the second half Saturday night,
it sent chills down Gerry McNamara's spine. Then the Syracuse ace
went out and helped ice Notre Dame.
McNamara scored 22 points, Hakim Warrick had 20 and the
eighth-ranked Orange staged a furious late rally to beat the Irish
60-57 before an NCAA record on-campus crowd of 33,199.
"The excitement tonight was unlike anything I've been a part
of," said McNamara, who scored 18 points in the second half. "The
sad thing is we were down at the time and we had to pay attention
Syracuse (21-2, 8-1 Big East) was down virtually the whole game
until the final five minutes, and Notre Dame (13-6, 5-4) appeared
on the verge of ending the Orange's 18-game home winning streak
when Torin Francis converted a three-point play to put the Irish up
50-39 with 6:05 left.
With McNamara playing with four fouls, Warrick took over inside,
slamming home three dunks and hitting two free throws as the Orange
used a pressing defense to go on an 11-0 run. McNamara, who missed
all five of his 3-point attempts in the first half, hit his third
straight 3 of the second to pull Syracuse to 50-48 and the crowd
erupted with a deafening roar, chanting "Gerry! Gerry!"
Chris Quinn was then called for a 5-second violation, Notre Dame
coach Mike Brey protested and received a technical, and McNamara
drained two free throws to tie it at 50 with 3:24 left.
"We just got careless with the ball," said Francis, who
finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. "The game was just going
their way towards the end. The rest of the game we were in control.
We had a couple of turnovers, they were hitting free throws, and
the next thing I knew it was tied."
McNamara was fouled by Chris Thomas while attempting a 3 with
1:48 left and hit all three free throws to put Syracuse up 55-52.
Francis's turnaround jumper in the lane made it 56-54 with 32.6
seconds left, but McNamara hit four more free throws to finish
11-for-11 from the line and keep Syracuse in front.
After Dennis Latimore's dunk with 19.5 seconds left, Terrence
Roberts missed four straight foul shots for Syracuse, giving the
Irish one last chance. Thomas nearly sent the game into overtime,
but his desperation heave from beyond half court at the buzzer hit
the rim and caromed away.
Syracuse's last home loss was to Notre Dame last February. And
yet even though the Irish were unable to hand the Orange another
one, Brey was upbeat afterward.
"I'm pretty proud of our group," Brey said. "I think we're
playing pretty well. We didn't get a "W" to show for it, but if
we can keep playing with this intensity and fearlessness, we're
going to have a chance to be in the NCAA tournament. That's all
we're really shooting for."
Chris Quinn had 12 points, Latimore had 10, Colin Falls nine,
and Thomas had five points and five assists.
Syracuse, which entered the game shooting 50 percent, scored a
season-low 20 points in the first half and shot just 33.3 percent,
missing all six of its 3-point attempts.
"We just didn't want to send all these people home mad, and for
a second it looked as if it was going to be like that," Warrick
said. "They came out with nothing to lose and you could just see
the confidence in them. We came out a little too hesitant."