Copyright by Global Electronics Telecommunications, publishers of IrishEyes™
By Alan Tieuli
Yes, this was opportunity lost.
Notre Dame squandered a 12-point second-half lead Saturday afternoon
at the Carrier Dome, ultimately dropping an 82-80 decision before an emotionally exhausted
throng of 32,116, the largest on-campus college basketball crowd of the 2002-03 season.
More than 2,000 of those spectators were family, friends and well
The ramifications of McNamara's make, and Notre Dame's
failure to score on the other end on the last possession of the game, were enormous. Instead of moving into first-place in the West
Division of the Big East, the Irish (19-5, 7-3) slipped into a second-place tie with
"I wanted this win more than anything," said Matt Carroll, who scored Notre Dame's final
11 points and had a team-high 22 overall, but had his attempted game-tying shot in the
lane blocked by Jeremy McNeil. "The West Division, it is kind out of
our control now. I don't like that."
It didn't have to be so. The
Irish were cruising, up 67-55 with to play. The
magnificent crowd –
Francis missed both and little went right from then on.
Encapsulating quickly, Syracuse's gifted freshman Carmelo Anthony (26 points, nine rebounds in a
40-minute NBA-worthy performance) got the Orange back into the game with 10 points over
the next 3:30. After a McNamara jumper tied it
at 69 with to play, the contest with back and forth with stunning intensity. Carroll gave the Irish the lead four times at ,
, and , only to be answered by
Finally, with both players go at each other like their futures were
at stake, Anthony hit a twisting lay-up at to give the hosts a 79-77 lead. Carroll responded -- after an empty ND trip and two
missed Billy Edelin free throws – with a
three-pointer from the wing with 26.5 left. Irish,
This is the part worth discussing.
In the Notre Dame huddle, the memories of successful closing game
"For four years (in high school), Gerry was four years was
double-teamed and had to make the big play," said Boeheim. "So I think this is
easy for him."
The jumper he sank for the winning points was critical, but not
challenging. "It was," he said of
his 15th, 16th and 17th points, "a much easier shot than I expected considering the
Brey took the blame.
"We got so Anthony distracted," Brey said, perhaps coining
a new Big East term. "We should have played man to man on that possession. Anthony was obviously tough to guard, we just
wanted to jam it up a bit. In hindsight, I
wish we would have stayed man-to-man, I don't think I put our guys in a great
Brey's judgment not to call a timeout after the McNamara basket
could also be questioned. The Irish did not
set up and had to settle for a forced Carroll drive that really had no chance.
"Against Pitt we did not use a time out," Brey said.
"I thought we would come down and attack. We
did not get as a good a look. McNamara's
shot kind of shocked (us) a little bit and I don't know if we were as confident after
that shot in front of the
All the more reason, one could reason, to call a timeout. But Boeheim perhaps said it best when shaking
Brey's hand immediately after the buzzer.
"These are the games, Mike, that you have been winning all year