Missing its “Big Two,” Notre Dame overcame Syracuse’s “Big Three” on Saturday afternoon and edged the Orange 51-49 in an Atlantic Coast Conference game before 24,304 fans at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.
Tyus Battle -- one of the Orange’s Big Three -- hit a 3-pointer with 49 seconds remaining to tie the score at 49. Battle had the ball in his hands in the closing seconds, but he was stripped by Notre Dame’s T.J. Gibbs and Rex Pflueger grabbed the rebound after Gibbs’ miss and banked in a layup with 2 seconds left to give the Irish the come-from-behind victory.
In winning at the Carrier Dome for the first time since 2007, Notre Dame (13-3, 3-0 in the ACC) played without its two best players, seniors Bonzie Colson (fractured left foot) and point guard Matt Farrell (sprained ankle). Colson, the ACC’s Preseason Player of the Year, was averaging 21.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, while Farrell was averaging 15.9 points and 5.1 assists prior to Wednesday’s game when he was injured.
Battle, who scored a game-high 21 points, Frank Howard (10) and Oshae Brissett (10) combined for 41 of Syracuse’s 49 points. Brissett also grabbed 11 rebounds for the Orange (12-4, 1-2). Battle, Howard and Brissett entered the game averaging a combined 50.4 points per game.
Gibbs led the Irish with 18 points, Pflueger added 12 and Martinas Geben grabbed 14 rebounds as Notre Dame outrebounded Syracuse 42-27.
With Pflueger and D.J. Harvey sinking 3-pointers, the Irish opened the second half on an 8-0 run that whittled Syracuse’s lead to 28-27. Battle responded by scoring seven of the Orange’s next 10 points, as Syracuse held a 38-34 advantage with about eight minutes remaining.
Pflueger’s 3-pointer from the wing with 6:47 remaining cut the Orange’s lead to 38-37, and the teams traded baskets for the next two minutes as Syracuse stayed ahead, 44-43. Notre Dame moved ahead on a pair of Gibbs’ free throws and Geben’s inside bucket, but Battle’s 3-pointer erased the Irish’s 49-46 lead.
At the outset, Notre Dame struggled to score against Syracuse’s vaunted 2-3 zone defense without Colson and Farrell. The Irish missed their first 10 shots, made just one field goal in the first 10 minutes of the game and trailed 10-3 midway through the first half.
Gibbs’ 3-pointer and rebound basket pulled Notre Dame within 10-8, but the Orange outscored the Irish 18-11 for the remainder of the half to lead 28-19 at the break. Battle (9 points), Howard (8) and Brissett (7) combined for 24 of Syracuse’s first-half points, while Gibbs kept the Irish close with 14 first-half points. Gibbs shot 5-for-10 in the first half while his teammates combined to shoot 1-for-19.
At halftime, Syracuse retired the No. 22 jersey of Dennis DuVal, who scored 1,504 points for the Orange from 1971-74 and later became the City of Syracuse Police Chief. DuVal is the 11th Syracuse player to have his jersey retired.
--Field Level Media