March 3, 2002
By TOM CANAVAN
AP Sports Writer
PISCATAWAY. N.J. – Leaf Newman scored 11 points in a 24-4 spurt and Syracuse stunned No. 21 Notre Dame 84-79 on Sunday in the biggest upset in the Big East Conference women’s tournament since 1996.
Jaime James had 23 points and Newman added 19 as the No. 7-seeded Orangemen (18-11) ousted the defending national champions and gave themselves a shot at their first NCAA tournament berth since 1988.
Julie McBride added 18 points, including five free throws in the final 45.5 seconds, to help Syracuse reach the semifinal Monday night against the winner of the quarterfinal between No. 18 Boston College and Rutgers.
The No. 2 seeded Irish (19-10) are still likely to get an NCAA tournament berth despite losing two in a row after a nine-game winning streak.
Notre Dame, which got 29 points from Alicia Ratay, didn’t go down without a fight. Trailing 76-60 with 3:52 to play, the Irish scored 19 of the next 24 points and pulled to 81-79 with 18.3 seconds to play on Ratay’s seventh 3-pointer.
James hit two free throws to push the lead to four points with 16.6 seconds left and Notre Dame’s final chance evaporated when Ratay threw an airball with 6 seconds to go.
The upset was the biggest in the conference tournament since No. 13 seeded Pittsburgh beat No. 5 seed Villanova, and No. 7 seed Seton Hall beat No. 2 seed Providence in quarterfinal games.
Syracuse, which lost center Chineze Nwagbo to a knee injury Saturday night, took control by combining a 9-1 run at the end of the first half with a 15-3 push at the start of the second.
Newman hit a 3-pointer and a basket at the end of the first half and added three more baskets at the start of the second. James started the second-half burst with consecutive 3-pointers.
Trammell, who was filling in for Nwagbo, had seven of her nine points in the spurt. During the regular season, she had nine points in conference play.