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ND Men’s Basketball: Orange juiced

Chris Hine | Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Notre Dame forwards Luke Harangody and Zach Hillesland each had a double-double as the Irish exploded for a 61-point first half, snapped their season-long road losing streak and defeated Syracuse 103-91 Tuesday at the Carrier Dome.

“We’ve been searching for a road league win,” Irish coach Mike Brey said in his post-game press conference. “This is a nice way to start it off.”

Early in the first half, Notre Dame (18-4, 6-3 Big East) opened up a 28-19 lead, thanks to the sharp shooting of guards Russell Carter and Colin Falls. The two combined for eight three-pointers in the first half.

The Orange (15-7, 4-4 Big East) answered with a 9-2 run to cut the Irish lead to two, but Syracuse’s defense could not stop the red-hot Irish, who played without starting forward Rob Kurz (sprained ankle). Falls, forward Ryan Ayers and guard Jonathan Peoples each connected from beyond the arc to increase Notre Dame’s lead to 43-30 with 6:13 left in the half.

“If we didn’t have anything in transition we were really smart offensively. We only had two turnovers at halftime,” Brey said. “We didn’t force anything in transition. On the road, in the past, we had done that.”

After missing their first three attempts beyond the arc, the Irish connected on 10 of their next 14, forcing Syracuse out of their traditional 2-3 zone and into a man-to-man defense.

Despite the adjustment, Notre Dame was able to score 18 points off of Syracuse turnovers and ended the half leading 61-42.

“Notre Dame is a very good shooting team and we had to play them man-to-man,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said in his post-game press conference. “It was very disappointing.”

Halftime did little to cool down the Irish.

A jump shot by forward Ryan Ayers gave Notre Dame a 79-55 lead with 10:51 left in the game. Even though this was Notre Dame’s final field goal of the game, solid free throw shooting down the stretch helped the Irish stave off a late Syracuse run.

The Irish shot 30-of-36 from the charity stripe for the game, led by point guard Tory Jackson’s 11-of-14 performance.

“We should be doing that from the foul line,” Brey said.

Syracuse guard Eric Devendorf did not help the cause for the Orange, shooting 0-of-11 from the field.

Syracuse’s defensive pressure stifled Notre Dame and allowed the Orange to cut the Irish lead to 90-79 with 3:07 remaining. The Orange would double-team the first Irish player to touch the ball inbounds while Jackson, Notre Dame’s main ball handler, waited around half court for passes that never made it to him.

Notre Dame adjusted by moving Jackson up into the front line of Syracuse’s pressure and was able to break the press – forcing Syracuse to foul. The Irish drained 13 of their next 14 free throws to seal the victory.

Jackson finished with 19 points and seven assists. Harangody contributed a team-high 23 points and 13 rebounds while Hillesland added 14 points, 10 boards and six assists. The big men also combined to shoot 11-of-12 from the line.

“Harangody and Hillesland look like All-Americans instead of first-year players,” Boeheim said.

Carter scored 18 points while Falls poured in 16 points with most of those coming in the first half when the two combined for eight three-pointers.

Syracuse forward Demetris Nichols had 29 points while forward Terrence Roberts added 20.

Notre Dame hits the road again to take on South Florida Saturday. The Irish defeated the Bulls 82-58 last Saturday at the Joyce Center.