Scores

Final

(4) Villanova 92

(24-3, 14-2 Big East)

Syracuse 82

(19-11, 7-9 Big East)

    12:00 PM ET, March 5, 2006

    Carrier Dome, Syracuse, New York

    1 2 T
    #4VILL 45 4792
    SYR 37 4582

    Top Performers

    Villanova: A. Ray 28 Pts, 3 Reb, 2 Stl

    Syracuse: G. McNamara 29 Pts, 2 Reb, 8 Ast, 1 Stl

    'Nova tops 'Cuse, puts damper on McNamara tribute

    SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- At least Gerry McNamara went out on his own terms.

    With a record Carrier Dome crowd cheering his every move, McNamara scored a game-high 29 points for Syracuse in his final regular-season home game but Allan Ray had 28 points to lead No. 4 Villanova to a 92-82 win Sunday.

    Randy Foye added 21 points for the Wildcats (24-3, 14-2), who earned a tie for the conference title with Connecticut and a second seed in the Big East tournament. It was the 10th loss in 13 games for the sinking Orange (19-11, 7-9).

    "If I was going out with a loss, that's the way I wanted to go out -- fighting," said McNamara, whose pull-up 3-pointer with 6:35 left in the first half broke the Big East record of 178 career 3s in league play he shared with former Miami star Steve Edwards.

    "It's tough to go out with a loss, but if I'm going to lose my last game in the dome, it's going to be to a top-five team, and they're as good as any team in the country," said McNamara, who has made 130 straight starts, tops in the nation. "I'm happy to say we stuck with them every step. It came down to the end, and they just had a little more."

    Mike Nardi scored 12 points for Villanova, which made 13 of 31 3-pointers and outrebounded Syracuse 43-35.

    "I'm proud of our guys, that our senior class can be called champions," Jay Wright said after his 100th victory as head coach at Villanova. "Over a 16-game schedule in this conference, to win a championship is a great accomplishment. I think we're playing our best basketball right now."

    McNamara, one of the most popular players in Syracuse history, is the only one with 2,000 career points, 600 career assists and 250 career steals, and he was treated as royalty by the sellout crowd of 33,633, an NCAA on-campus record.

    Before the game, chants of "Gerry! Gerry! Gerry!" reverberated throughout the Carrier Dome as a video montage of his stellar career played high above Jim Boeheim Court. "Thanks Gerry, we'll never forget you" blared over the public-address system as he accepted a framed No. 3 jersey, blew kisses to the crowd, grabbed his heart and waved, then cried on his mother Joyce's shoulders.

    "In the beginning, I was so drained because I wanted to savor every moment. I didn't let her go because I didn't want to pick my head up. I couldn't deal with it," said McNamara, who made five 3-pointers to move his career total to 384, seventh in NCAA history. "It was emotional the whole game, every step of the way. Heavy eyes and heavy feet."

    The Carrier Dome was sold out in advance of a basketball game for the first time since the building opened in 1980, a tribute to the Orange's beloved senior guard. More than 3,000 fans from his hometown of Scranton, Pa., packed over 60 buses to make the two-hour trip north.

    They didn't get the ending they wanted, but he sure made it exciting.

    After Ray's three-point play gave Villanova a 58-47 lead with 14:46 left, McNamara and Eric Devendorf, who finished with 19 points, hit 3-pointers to move Syracuse within 62-56 at 11:29 as the crowd roared, sensing a comeback.

    The Orange kept it a two-possession game until Foye and Nardi hit 3-pointers to boost the Villanova lead to 81-69 with 4:24 left.

    Then McNamara scored nine straight points to lead the Orange back within 83-78 with just under 3 minutes remaining.

    "I was hoping. I really was," McNamara said. "To beat Villanova would be big for us. That's no secret. A call here and there, a loose ball here and there, a rebound here and there, you never know. It just didn't work out."

    That was the Orange's last threat, and McNamara departed in the final minute to another deafening cheer and more tears.

    "I'm glad coach took me out when he did. I'm not sure how much longer I could have held it together," McNamara said.

    "I had mixed feelings," said Wright, who coached McNamara in the World University Games last summer. "I wanted it to end nicely for him, but not at our expense. He had a great game and we got the win. We wanted to be focused, but there was so much going on. Our hotel looked like I spent a weekend in Scranton. My sons were wearing Gerry McNamara jerseys that the Scranton fans gave them."

    Syracuse, which was coming off a deflating 108-69 loss at DePaul, will play Cincinnati on Wednesday in a game with big implications for the NCAA tournament, even if the winner gets top-seeded Connecticut in the second round.

    "A lot of teams don't have a chance. We still do," McNamara said. "The loss to DePaul really hurt. We knew that. We thought we needed a win today. We almost got one, and now we have to go down to New York and win a couple of games.

    "We're going to have to beat some tough teams to do it. We're just hoping for the best and keeping our heads up."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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    Team Stat Comparison

     
    VILL
    SYR
    Points 92 82
    FG Made-Attempted 27-64 (.422) 27-58 (.466)
    3P Made-Attempted 13-31 (.419) 8-25 (.320)
    FT Made-Attempted 25-32 (.781) 20-31 (.645)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 23 (0/0) 26 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 12 4

    2005-06 Season

    DATEGAMELINKS
    Jan 21, 2006 @VILL 80, SYR 65Recap
    » Mar 5, 2006 VILL 92, @SYR 82Recap