Irish Rewind: Balance key for Notre Dame in Carrier Dome conquest

Tom Noie
South Bend Tribune

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- An arena that had been a college basketball house of horrors for Notre Dame far too long quickly and convincingly turned Tuesday into its personal playground.

Doing almost everything right in the first half against Syracuse, the Irish sprinted to 61 points, the most during coach Mike Brey's tenure, then scored their final 24 points at the foul line in a 103-91 victory.

It was the most points scored by Notre Dame in 13 visits to the Carrier Dome, where many of the 23,274 in attendance offered only boos after 20 minutes of blistering basketball by the visitors.

"We stayed together, stayed in character and it just happened," said Irish freshman guard Tory Jackson, who scored a career-high 19 points on his 19th birthday. "We kept our foot on the pedal and they couldn't stop us.

"They gave us one punch, but we came back with two, three, four punches."

Those body blows came from all directions -- starters and subs, veterans and rookies -- as the Irish set a Carrier Dome record for points by a visiting team. Winners on the road for the first time this season, No. 21 Notre Dame placed all five starters in double figures to improve to 18-4 overall, 6-3 in the league after having lost seven of eight in Central New York. The Orangemen, losers of three consecutive league games, fall to 15-7, 4-4.

It was Notre Dame's first road win in conference play since a March 1, 2006 victory at Providence. That one had a little more drama than Tuesday, where the outcome was cemented early in the second half despite some wishful thinking by the home team, which cut a 28-point Irish lead to 10 in the closing minutes.

Three Irish players who never played in the Dome before Tuesday enjoyed career nights. Freshman Luke Harangody finished with 21 points and 13 rebounds in 30 minutes, all career-highs. Jackson added to his career scoring night by going 11-of-14 from the foul line with seven assists and three steals. Sophomore Zach Hillesland stepped into the starting lineup and delivered his third career double-double with 14 points (a career-high), 10 rebounds and six assists in a career-best 34 minutes.

"It was finally the road effort we've been looking for, coming out and giving the first punch," Hillesland said. "It's just one of those nights where everything was flowing."

Notre Dame trailed by at least 14 in each of its first three league road games. On Tuesday, the largest deficit was two points, that for 10 seconds. The Irish played the final 35:44 with the lead, where the only concern late would be if their charter would get back to snowy South Bend.

Demetris Nichols led five Orange with 29 points.

"Our seniors have got to be able to show that they are a good team," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim. "At this stage, they haven't proven that."

Scoring runs of 11-1 and 11-2, fueled by fullcourt pressure and some quick Irish shots, allowed the Orange to get within 10 with 2:42 remaining. Four different Irish then connected on 12 consecutive free throws the final 2:25.

"That's what won us the game," Harangody said.

Notre Dame's final basket by sophomore Ryan Ayers arrived with 10:51 remaining. The visitors were 30-of-36 from the foul line, 27-of-32 in the second half. They closed it out without two starters -- Colin Falls and Rob Kurz. Falls fouled out with 3:08 left. Kurz did not dress while nursing a sprained right ankle suffered Saturday against Villanova. With Kurz out, Harangody knew he'd have to offer more. Effective in the early run, he had 12 points and six rebounds at half.

"My thing was I had to come in there and rebound," Harangody said. "I hit a couple big shots early."

That focused first half of ball movement, running and cutting and defending sent the Irish off the floor energized as the home crowd booed the Orange effort. Notre Dame's 61 points fell one shy of the all-time Big East record, set by Providence against St. John's on Feb. 29, 2004.

"I didn't know that," Falls said. "That was a clinic. Everyone was clicking. When we get going, we can score."

Notre Dame shot 55.8 percent from the field in the first half, 58.8 percent from 3. The Irish busted it open with a 13-2 run midway through the period, then closed with two baskets, both by Jackson. He twice drove for uncontested lay-ups as the Orange defense seemingly slumbered nearby.

"It felt like I was in the air for so long, I was just looking around," Jackson said. "Nobody was coming to me and I was going to pass it. I just ended up finger-rolling and walking away."

Notre Dame had 17 assists in the first half after tallying only one helper the first 20 minutes three days earlier against Villanova. Everyone who checked into the contest seemingly got involved for the visitors.

"We really got off to a great start, played fearlessly," Brey said. "We can put numbers on the board. That was probably a great example of it in the first half."




min fg ft rb pf tp

34 Zach Hillesland 4-7 6-6 10 4 14

33 Russell Carter 5-12 4-6 6 4 18

30 Luke Harangody 8-19 5-6 13 4 21

35 Tory Jackson 4-8 11-14 3 3 19

36 Colin Falls 5-11 2-2 0 5 16

4 Jonathan Peoples 1-2 0-0 1 0 3

15 Luke Zeller 2-3 0-0 1 3 5

13 Ryan Ayers 2-2 2-2 0 2 7

TOTALS 31-64 30-36 38 25 103

3-point fg-fga included in totals above: Carter 4-7, Jackson 0-2, Falls 4-10, Peoples 1-1, Zeller 1-2, Ayers 1-1.

TOTALS: 11-23 (47.8 percent)


min fg ft rb pf tp

28 Terrence Roberts 8-12 4-5 6 3 20

38 Demetris Nichols 10-19 6-7 2 2 29

21 Darryl Watkins 5-8 0-0 6 5 10

11 Andy Rautins 2-3 0-0 0 1 6

26 Josh Wright 3-6 5-6 3 3 12

26 Paul Harris 4-10 4-7 11 4 12

26 Eric Devendorf 0-11 0-0 5 3 0

24 Matt Gorman 1-5 0-0 5 3 2

TOTALS 33-74 19-25 42 24 91

3-point fg-fga included in totals above: Nichols 3-7, Rautins 2-3, Wright 1-3, Devendorf 0-6, Gorman 0-2.

TOTALS: 6-21 (28.6 percent)

Halftime score: Notre Dame 61, Syracuse 42

Shooting: Notre Dame 31-64 (48.4 percent), Syracuse 33-74 (44.6 percent)

Assists: Notre Dame 20 (Jackson 7), Syracuse 17 (Wright 5, Devendorf 5)

Turnovers: Notre Dame 10 (Jackson 3, Falls 3), Syracuse 16 (Wright 4, Harris 4)

Officials: John Higgins, Tome Lopes, Ed Hightower

Attendance: 23, 274

Each week during the college basketball season, NDI takes a look back at a memorable Irish game with a reprint of the story that appeared in the South Bend Tribune.

This week's Irish Rewind steps back 10 years ago this week when Notre Dame blitzed Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.

Orange coach Jim Boeheim may not still know what hit him after the Irish scored 61 first-half points, then ended the game by scoring their final 24 points from the free throw line.

This story appeared in the Jan. 31, 2007 edition of the Tribune.

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