Syracuse guard Trevor Cooney could not be denied in the Dome, and Syracuse took the victory, 81-66. Cooney is known for breakout games against the Fighting Irish, and tonight was no exception. He had a game-high 22 points for the Orange.
“I was able to make shots today,” he said. "Scoring is important but the difference in the game was defense."
“The whole key of the game was going to be defense on Colson and Auguste, and inside they’re good players,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said. “I thought we stepped up and made them take tough shots and we kept it out of there.”
The Orange held Colson to nine points and Auguste to eight.
The Fighting Irish started the game with a jumper from sophomore forward Bonzie Colson and a three from junior forward V.J. Beachem. Jim Boeheim took a timeout before the 18:00 mark. After that, Syracuse went on a 23-1 run. The Orange got on the scoreboard with an and-one by junior forward Tyler Roberson and a three from freshman forward Tyler Lydon. SU was getting to the paint at will, Gbinije was penetrating, Roberson was above the rim grabbing offensive rebounds for put-backs and Lydon was hitting open shots.
“It was pretty much like the Bahamas, he [Lydon] got wide open looks and he can make those shots,” Boeheim said. “When they’re given, he’s got to take them.”
Cooney was on fire, but Notre Dame wasn’t going to give him any easy baskets. His looks were all contested from threes and fade-away jumpers to lay-ups. He had seven points in the 23-1 run and finished the half with 15.
Lydon had eight straight points before the half, all coming in the final minute. Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia had eleven points to end the half including a three pointer at the buzzer: the score Syracuse 44-27.
Notre Dame switched to a zone defense in the second half hoping Syracuse had cooled off after shooting over fifty percent in the first half. The Irish slowly tried to climb their way back into the game. Notre Dame had the SU lead down to 12 when Gbinije drove and kicked to Richardson who hit a three and was fouled. The freshman completed the four-point play to extend the lead to 52-36.
“It was a great play,” according to coach Boeheim. “It was big, Gbinije had a good floor game tonight.”
“We’re trying to make the tournament and we have to start beating some tournament teams,” Gbinije said. “Notre Dame, they’re a good team.”
Colson had an intentional foul against Lydon putting Syracuse in bonus. Lydon went 2-for-2 at the line, which put the Orange up 74-54.
Cooney had 22 points on the evening. Gbinije, Richardson and Lydon all had 15 points a piece.
Roberson was one point and one rebound away from a double-double.
Notre Dame’s Beachem had 22 points and Vasturia had 16.
The Orange have a quick turnaround as they take on Georgia Tech on Saturday (12 p.m. ET) at the Carrier Dome.