Feb 15, 2003
By JIM O’CONNELL
AP Basketball Writer
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) – Gerry McNamara knows how to send a crowd home happy.
Playing in front of 32,116 people at the Carrier Dome, including about 2,000 from his hometown of Scranton, Pa., the freshman guard hit a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left to give No. 17 Syracuse an 82-80 victory over No. 10 Notre Dame on Saturday.
“I was shooting the ball. I didn’t care if I hadn’t hit a shot the entire game before that, I was taking that shot,” said McNamara, who was exaggerating some because he was 6-for-16 from the field until then, including 2-for-8 from 3-point range.
His coach felt the same way.
“I don’t know what he was shooting for the game but I like him shooting that shot,” Orangemen coach Jim Boeheim said of the 3 from in front of Syracuse’s bench. “He has great confidence and he wasn’t going to let 2,000 people from Scranton down.”
Buses filled with McNamara’s fans make the 2-hour trip from Scranton for home games and the numbers keep getting bigger.
“Two-thousand people. That says a lot about my fans and Scranton,” said McNamara, who had 17 points and six assists. “They’re showing support for me and I’m trying my hardest to give something back to them.”
The win kept Syracuse unbeaten at home this season and, coupled with Seton Hall’s 73-61 victory over No. 7 Pittsburgh on Saturday, allowed the Orangemen (17-4, 8-3) to take a half-game lead in the Big East West Division over the Fighting Irish (19-5, 7-3) and Panthers.
The top two teams in the division get byes into the tournament quarterfinals.
There was still plenty of action after McNamara’s eventual game-winner.
Notre Dame’s Matt Carroll then drove the lane, his shot was partially blocked by Jeremy McNeil, and the ball went to Syracuse’s Hakim Warrick, who threw the ball high in the air with about 5 seconds to play.
When the ball finally landed near midcourt, the buzzer sounded as players scrambled for it and part of the biggest crowd at the Carrier Dome since 1996 ran onto the court.
|Notre Dame vs Syracuse|
100k | 300k
100k | 300k
“We got set defensively and Jeremy made a great block and then Hak lost his mind,” Boeheim said. “I don’t know what he was doing but, fortunately for him, everything ended up well.”
Warrick agreed with his coach about the final seconds.
“I didn’t have a clue,” he said. “I threw it up and I kept listening for the horn to go off. It didn’t go off and I was like `Uh-oh.”‘
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey was more upset with himself over the play that gave McNamara the open look for the 3.
“We showed man-to-man and pulled back to a zone and kind of lost him. That’s my fault. We should have played man-to-man on that possession, I really kick myself,” he said. “I don’t think I put my guys in a great position there. We were trying to go back to zone but we got so Anthony-distracted and we lost (McNamara).”
Freshman Carmelo Anthony led Syracuse with 26 points, including 10 in a 14-2 run that brought the Orangemen into a 69-69 tie with 6? minutes left. Syracuse trailed by 12 points just four minutes earlier.
Notre Dame took the lead four times over the next three minutes, but Syracuse tied the game each time.
Anthony finally gave the Orangemen a 79-77 lead with a basket down low with 1? minutes to play. Carroll, who finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, gave the Fighting Irish their final lead, 80-79, on a 3-pointer with 26 seconds to go.
“I didn’t want this team to lose and I was just doing everything I could to prevent it from happening,” Carroll said. “But it wasn’t enough.”
Warrick had 15 points and 12 rebounds for Syracuse, which committed only four turnovers.
Freshman Torin Francis had 17 points for Notre Dame, which had won five of six, while Chris Thomas had 16 and Dan Miller 14.
The Irish were 12-for-26 from 3-point range, with Thomas and Carroll each going 4-for-8, and Miller 4-for-9. Only McNamara hit a 3 for the Orangemen, who went 3-for-17 from beyond the arc.
Syracuse is 14-0 at home this season and has won 16 straight in the Carrier Dome overall. The Orangemen improved to 2-1 this season against Top 10 teams, having split two games with Pittsburgh.
“The crowd was huge today,” Anthony said. “We needed the crowd to be in it and we made our run in the second half when they started getting loud.”
Brey said his team had a chance to win in a tough atmosphere.
“We had them down in the second half but they’re an exceptionally talented offensive team and they got it going in the second half,” he said. “But for us, even though it feels like three losses in one game today, we have to regroup, go to West Virginia and understand we’re still in the West Division hunt with what happened today at Seton Hall.”