The Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s basketball team blew yet another big lead on the road against the Syracuse Orange this afternoon, falling 75 to 67 after leading by as many as 20 early in the 2nd half.
The Irish fell to 9-11 (6-8 ACC) on the year, throwing away what would have been a nice win on the road against a NCAA Tournament bubble team. ND was led on the day by Trey Wertz, who scored 17 points and grabbed 3 rebounds while shooting 5-of-8 from outside the arc.
Dane Goodwin (13 points, 5 rebounds), Nate Laszewski (11 points, 12 rebounds), Prentiss Hubb (8 points, 10 assists), and Juwan Durham (10 points, 3 assists) all turned in decent games, but all went quiet down the stretch as the team crumbled while Syracuse found its footing.
The Irish shot 44% from the field and 40% from deep, but shot horribly down the stretch and made several critical turnovers that crippled their offense.
Syracuse, meanwhile, was paced in scoring by Buddy Boeheim, who had 29 points on 6-of-10 shooting from long range to go along with 3 steals. Marek Dolejaj (18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) and Quincy Guerrier (9 points, 14 rebounds) also chipped in for the Orange. ‘Cuse shot 43% from the field, 43% from long range, and won both the rebounding and turnover battles on the day.
Notre Dame opened the game wonderfully, jumping out to a 32-15 lead while shooting 68% from the field over the course of the first 11 minutes of play. Fantastic ball movement, assists on 15 of 18 1st half field goals, some easy Juwan Durham dunks, and Trey Wertz catching fire all contributed to the excellent first period for the Irish. Notre Dame entered halftime with a 46 to 32 lead.
In the second half, the Irish played the first ~8 minutes much the same way, maintaining a healthy 15-20 point lead and withstanding a few small Syracuse runs to hold a 58-41 lead at the 13:30 mark. However, a 34-9 run by Syracuse over the final 13 minutes changed everything, as the Orange pressured the Irish full-court, and the Irish went cold and couldn’t handle the ball while Syracuse caught fire.
The Orange won comfortably in the end, taking an 8-point victory in a game they should never have been allowed to claw their way back into considering the first 25 minutes of basketball.
The Irish play next on Tuesday night at the Louisville Cardinals, looking to quickly turn things around as they run out of chances to make even the most desperate of cases for NCAA Tournament qualification.