Saturday afternoon drama!
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish faced off against the Syracuse Orange in the Carrier Dome Saturday afternoon. For the Irish, star PG Matt Farrell did not make the trip with a sprained ankle, nor did the injured player-of-the-year candidate Bonzie Colson. Coming into the game, Notre Dame was sporting a five-game losing streak at Syracuse.
The first half was a mostly ugly and low scoring affair. The Irish started 0-10 from the floor, and stayed cold even after T.J. Gibbs floated in the first Notre Dame field goal after a full six minutes of play. That would remain the only Irish field goal through 10 minutes, and Syracuse pushed the lead to as much as 11. T.J. Gibbs drew a foul and sunk two free throws with 49 seconds left to cut the Syracuse lead late in the first half, and the score at the break stood at Syracuse 28, Notre Dame 19. Or rather, Syracuse 28, T.J. Gibbs 14, everyone else... five.
Gibbs, the only source of offense for the Irish in the first half, was 5-10 from the floor and 2-8 from three at that point.
The second half opened with some optimism, as Rex Pflueger drained an early three to cut the Syracuse lead to six. Following a Gibbs floater, things got even more interesting. D.J. Harvey went up and took a lob away from from Syracuse’s 7’2” center Paschal Chukwu on the defensive end. That’s right, 6’6” D.J. Harvey, struggling on the offensive end against the Syracuse zone, getting a ton of playing times with the injuries to the Notre Dame stars, made a heck of a play.
To follow up this seriously impressive moment, Harvey knocked down a three. This brought the score to 28-27 in favor or Syracuse, prompting Jim Boehiem to take a timeout. It was a 7-0 Notre Dame run to open the second half. Then, the stiffs with microphones on their faces just wanted to talk about Bonzie Colson never playing for Notre Dame again, because we’re not supposed to enjoy sports or anything. Whatever.
Notre Dame was able to stick with Syracuse down the stretch thanks to offensive rebounds, and with 2:25 seconds left, T.J. Gibbs drew a foul at mid-court that sent him to the free throw line. He drained both free throws, and the Irish led at 45-44. It was their second lead of the game (their first being 1-0). With 58.0 seconds left in the game, Elijah Burns drained two free throws, and the Irish led 49-46. Syracuse guard Tyus Battle hit a long three with 40 seconds left to tie the game, and then the Irish turned it over. Cue the late game heroics.
On Syracuse’s last possession, Gibbs poked the ball free. Geben recovered the turnover and Ian Book’ed it straight to
Miles Boykin Gibbs on the break, who missed the contested layup, only for HERO Rex Pflueger to tip in the game-winning bucket. Notre Dame 51, Syracuse 49, game over.
The Irish pulled down 21 rebounds and scored exactly one more point than the Notre Dame football team did the last time they played in the Carrier Dome. For the Irish, they snap a five-game losing streak at Syracuse, and move to 3-0 in the ACC. A good and surprising start, given the circumstances.
T.J. Gibbs finished the game with 18 points, and Pflueger added 12. Matt Farrell returns next week against for the Irish against Georgia Tech.