The Notre Dame Fighting Irish Men’s basketball team (11-6, 2-4) returned to Purcell Pavilion on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, to face the Syracuse Orange (11-7, 4-3). This was the 52nd meeting between the two teams, with Syracuse coming into the game holding a 29-22 advantage in the series. The two teams have a long history, meeting for the first time on February 12, 1914, in Achbold Gym at Syracuse. This match-up against Syracuse was Notre Dame’s third ACC home game of the season. The Irish join Georgia Tech as the only ACC teams to face five conference opponents on the road in their first eight games of the league schedule.
The Irish got the opening tip but couldn’t convert their opening possession into points. On Syracuse’s first possession, however, they were able to get a two-point shot to sink. It didn’t take the Irish long to get on the board, though, with T.J. Gibbs sinking his first three-point-shot at 18:59, followed by another Gibbs three at 18:25. Syracuse, got their first three at 17:35, and Juwan Durham answered with a quick two-point shot. With only a few minutes off the clock (16:14), the score was tied at 12, and it looked like this was going to be a close one all night long.
The next Notre Dame player to sink a three-point shot would be Dane Goodwin (13:39), followed by a three by Nate Laszewski (13:13), and very quickly Notre Dame was up by 8 points 23-15 Irish. Syracuse’s Bourama Sidibe answered Notre Dame’s three-point shots with a dunk, and then each team would trade buckets, bringing the score to 25-19 (11:52), Notre Dame up.
The threes would just keep on falling for the Irish, with Laszewski sinking another one at 11:26, but Syracuse would send a message back with a dunk by Quincy Guerrier. (30-21, Irish) And then the Orange turned the scoring on, going on a 13-0 run, and pulling to within two points (32-30 Syracuse). The Irish were getting plenty of looks, but nothing seemed to fall until Dane Goodwin hit a three to go back up by one point. The Orange responded with a three-point shot, and then the Irish tied the game at 35-35 on a two-point shot by John Mooney. (6:09 Media Timeout)
Following the media timeout, Syracuse shot the first bucket, and then Prentiss Hubb sunk his first three-point shot of the night to put the Irish back up 38-37. At 4:42, Buddy Boeheim made his first shot, and the Orange go back up, 39-38. Nate Laszewski then snuck in a layup from under the bucket, followed by an Irish rebound. Rex Pflueger tried to make a three and missed, but it was again rebounded by the Irish and turned into a two-point John Mooney shot, 42-39 Irish.
With 90 seconds left in the half Syracuse’s Sidibe made a two-point shot, followed by a three-point shot by Brycen Goodine. The Orange sunk one more two-point shot before the end of the half, and they two teams headed to the locker room with Syracuse up, 46-42.
Second half stats: Notre Dame made 15-of-33 two-point shots, 7-of-19 three-point shots, and 5-of-6 shots from the free throw line. Syracuse made 18-of-36 two-point shots, 7-of-15 three-point shots, and 3-of-3 shots from the free throw line.
Syracuse started the half off quick, sinking two buckets to increase their lead to 51-42. Rex Pflueger started the second half scoring for the Irish with a layup, and then Syracuse’s Elijah Hughes sunk a jumper, 53-44 Syracuse. Hughes sunk one more bucket to put the Orange up by 11, and Coach Brey decided it was time to take a timeout and refocus his men.
The Irish started to turn the scoring back on with a Laszewski three-point shot, and a Goodwin jumper, but the Orange kept scoring as well. Orange up 57-49 with 15:21 in the half. Somehow the Irish have to figure out how to stop Elijah Hughes.
At 15:05 Durham made a two-point shot, followed up by two Syracuse scores, and the Orange were still up by ten, 61-51 Syracuse. Syracuse went to the line and made one free throw, followed by a fast break by Sidibe, and the Orange were now up by 13. Pflueger wasn’t intimidated though, as he sank a three to shrink the Orange lead to 10. Hubb then made a two-point jumper, but Syracuse quickly responded with a two-point shot, keeping the Syracuse lead at 10. (66-56 Syracuse).
With 10:44 on the clock, Dane Goodwin sunk a beautiful three, and the Irish were only down by six. On the next Syracuse possession, T.J. Gibbs is fouled, and the Orange sank both shots from the free throw line to go back up by eight. (68-60, Syracuse) Syracuse then lets the shot clock run out on their next possession and the Irish get the ball back, and Goodwin made a spinning jump shot, 68-62 with nine minutes to go.
The Orange stepped out of bounds on their next possession. The Irish get the ball back and Hubb made an insane shot from beyond the three point line and sunk it. The Irish are now only behind by three, 68-65. The Orange missed a three-point shot on their next possession, and John Money got the rebound but couldn’t convert it into points. The Irish got another rebound and Mooney this time was able to make a jumper; Notre Dame down by one point. 68-67. (Seven straight points for Notre Dame to get within one.)
Notre Dame got yet another rebound and this time Goodwin got the bucket and put the Irish up by one, 69-68 Irish. At which point Syracuse called a timeout. Time for everyone to regroup. Post timeout, Syracuse tried for a three and missed, and the Irish got the ball back on the rebound. The Irish can’t convert the possession to points, and at the other end of the court Boeheim sank a two, Syracuse up by one now.
On the next Irish possession, Mooney is fouled and heads to the line, but only made one of the two shots. The Orange sneak in a layup on their next possession, and the Irish were down by two. Mooney tried for a three and missed, and Syracuse’s Quincy Guerrier took it down court for the dunk. 74-70, Syracuse. 4:02 remain on the clock.
The Irish lose the ball and the Orange take it down court, but on the attempted rebound there was a double dribble and Notre Dame got the ball back. Goodwin tries for a two-point jumper and missed, and Syracuse got the rebound. As the clock ticked down, Syracuse made two more two-point buckets and with just over two minutes remaining in the game the Irish are down by six. 76-70, Syracuse. Syracuse missed their next shot and Notre Dame got the rebound but was unable to convert the possession into any points. Notre Dame’s T.J. Gibb’s fouled Syracuse with 43.3 remaining, and Syracuse made both of their free throw shots, and the Irish are now down by eight.
Mooney sank a two-point layup with 36 seconds on the clock, and Coach Brey called a timeout to focus his men. After the timeout, Mooney got charged with a foul, and Syracuse made two more shots from the line, 80-72 Syracuse (35 seconds left on the clock).
It wasn’t quite the game we were hoping for, but the Irish did show some glimmers of hope in the final seconds. Gibbs made a three-point shot at the 30 second mark, and then Hubb was called with the foul, and the Orange made another two free throws, 82-75 Syracuse. But the Irish weren’t done yet, Pflueger made a three point shot with 23 seconds on the clock, 82-78 Syracuse. Goodwin missed his next three but Mooney got the rebound and snuck in a layup, Notre Dame down by two. Syracuse goes to the free throw line again, and are up again by four, 84-80. With one second on the clock, Gibbs made a layup to get within two, but the clock runs out and that’s game. 84-82 Syracuse.
It was a close, well played game, for sure, but definitely not the outcome Notre Dame wanted.
Post game stats: Notre Dame made 31-of-68 two-point shots, 13-of-36 three-point shots, and were 7-for-10 from the foul line. Syracuse made 31-of-66 two-point shots, 8-of-26 three-point shots, and were 14-for-17 from the foul line.
Next up for Notre Dame, they head south to face No. 5 Florida State on Saturday, January 25th, at 7pm.