Notre Dame (9-11 / 6-8) blew a golden opportunity to get its season fully on track, blowing a 20-point second half lead to fall on the road to Syracuse (13-5 / 7-5) by a 75-68 score. It was Notre Dame’s second down the stretch collapse in its last four games, with the Irish also blowing a 17-point lead over Georgia Tech less than two weeks ago.
Instead of possibly being 11-9 overall, 8-6 in league play and winners of nine in a row, Notre Dame falls to two games below .500 thanks to losing huge leads on the road.
The game started with the teams trading baskets, and the Irish led 10-9 five minutes into the game thanks to a fast start from forward Juwan Durham. Guard Trey Wertz got into the action with a triple, and he and Durham began to take the first half over.
Durham and Wertz combined for 12 points as the Irish went on a 15-4 run in less than three minutes. It was a run Syracuse would never recover from. Notre Dame led by at least 12 points for the final ten minutes of the half as the rest of the lineup started to give Durham and Wertz some help.
Wertz was perfect in the first half, knocking down all four of his shots en route to 11 points in the opening half. That included three shots from behind the arc. Durham went 5-7 from the field and scored 10 points.
Top scorers Nate Laszewski and Prentiss Hubb played complementary roles in the first half, with Laszewski grabbing 10 rebounds and Hubb adding six assists.
Laszewski got into the scoring mix to kick off half number two, as the Irish forward knocked down a pair of triples to start the half.
Dane Goodwin knocked down a triple to make it 58-41, but that was followed by the first Syracuse run of the game. Notre Dame missed its next four shots and had a turnover, and that is when the Orange began to heat up. Syracuse scored on five of its next six possessions to get the game into single digits (60-52) at the halfway point of the second half.
Notre Dame’s struggles continued out of the timeout, as the Fighting Irish turned it over on three straight possessions, and Syracuse capitalized on each one, with a Quincy Guerrier triple making it 60-59.
Guard Cormac Ryan missed a triple attempt on Notre Dame’s next possession, and Syracuse guard Buddy Boeheim drilled a deep triple to give the Orange a 62-60 lead. It was Boeheim’s fourth triple of the half, and Notre Dame responded with yet another Hubb turnover.
A 20-point Notre Dame lead disappeared in just eight minutes, and the Irish had no answers for the Syracuse offense or the Orange press.
Wertz finally ended the bleeding, knocking down a deep triple from the top of the key to give the Irish their first basket in over five minutes. Between baskets the Irish saw a 60-52 lead turn into a 64-63 deficit. That shot from Wertz would not be the spark Notre Dame needed, as the Irish continued missing open shots, and the lack of movement on offense made it difficult to get anything going inside the three-point arc.
Notre Dame shot 56.3% from the field in the first half and knocked down half of their 14 three-point attempts. As hot as Notre Dame was in the first half it was equally cold in the second half. Notre Dame shot just 32.0% in the second half.
Notre Dame had as many turnovers (8) as it had made baskets in the second half. Boeheim torched the Irish guards, scoring 29 points on 10-19 shooting.
Notre Dame will stay on the road for its next game, which is Tuesday night matchup against Louisville (11-4 / 6-3).
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