Notre Dame downs Syracuse to move into Big East semifinals
New York, NY (Sports Network) – Russell Carter scored 24 points and Colin
Falls added 23, as 20th-ranked Notre Dame ended Syracuse’s bid for a third
straight Big East Tournament championship with an 89-83 triumph in the
quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden.
The Orange (22-10) had won the last two conference tournament titles and were
victorious in Wednesday’s opening round against Connecticut, but came up one
victory shy of UConn’s conference tournament record of nine straight wins.
Falls and Carter made sure it would end with a barrage of three-pointers.
Falls was 7-of-17 from beyond the arc and Carter made 4-of-10 as the fourth-
seeded Irish finished 13-of-34 from long distance.
“I got a bunch of clean looks,” said Falls.
Luke Harangody did the dirty work inside with 20 points and 11 rebounds, as
the Irish (24-6) advanced to a semifinal matchup with ninth-ranked and top-
seeded Georgetown. The Hoyas were a 62-57 winner over Villanova earlier on
Paul Harris scored 24 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for Syracuse, while Eric
Devendorf chipped in 19 points. Demetris Nichols rebounded from a one-point
first half to finish with 17 and Terrence Roberts contributed 10 points with
20 rebounds in defeat.
The Irish trailed 34-32 at the intermission and were down three just two
minutes into the second half before Falls and his teammates heated up.
Falls drilled a three-pointer to tie the game at 39-39 and added another shot
from beyond the arc before Harangody converted a layup inside to give Notre
Dame a 51-42 lead with just over 14 minutes left. The Irish hit seven of their
first 10 shots in the second half to assume command.
“I thought we were just not as active defensively in the second half,” said
Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim. “I thought we looked a little tired, but
Notre Dame is a very good offensive team against our zone.”
Nichols and Devendorf canned three-pointers to pull the Orange within three,
and another triple by Nichols a few moments later made it a 53-51 game.
Falls, though, answered with another three-pointer to ignite a 10-2 run that
gave Notre Dame a 63-53 advantage with 10 1/2 minutes left. Syracuse again
clawed back and pulled within four at 70-66 on a steal and layup by Harris.
The Irish regained momentum with six straight points, including a three by Rob
Kurz, for a 10-point margin with just under three minutes left.
Four straight free throws again drew Syracuse within six, but Falls hit still
another shot from beyond the arc and added a pair of free throws to give the
Irish their largest lead at 11 points.
The Orange got as close as four a few times in the final minutes, but Notre
Dame knocked down its free throws to seal it.
Syracuse took control early and led 26-16 with just under nine minutes to play
in the first half, but Notre Dame quickly regrouped. Carter drained a three
and added another jumper moments later to cut the Irish deficit in half.
Falls and Carter later hit shots from beyond the arc on consecutive
possessions to give Notre Dame a 29-28 lead, but Syracuse scored the next six
points before a Falls three sent the Irish down just two at the break.
“Our poise was pretty good when we were down in the first half, and I thought
we hung in there,” said Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey. “And our offense
eventually got in gear. It took a 57-point half for us to escape with a win.
We needed every point.”
Notre Dame has reached the semifinals of the Big East Tournament for just the
second time in its 12-year history in the league. The only other trip to the
semifinals came in 2002 and resulted in a loss to eventual champion
Connecticut…Harris notched his seventh double-double of the season.