Irish Top Orange 84-72

With Gerry McNamara draped all over him, Chris Quinn had to double clutch his 3-point attempt from the top of the key with three minutes and 18 seconds remaining in the game. He said he prayed for it to fall, and it did. The "circus" shot capped Quinn's personal 10-6 run during Notre Dame's 19-6 response to Syracuse's only lead in the second half, before the Fighting Irish put the No. 25 Syracuse Orangemen away for good on their home court Monday night, 84-72.<br><br>

"He made some bad shots," Notre Dame (13-9, 7-5) coach Mike Brey said at the post-game press conference. "He's a scorer so I don't mind him taking them. Tonight, he just made them."

Quinn, who scored 22 points in the game, said he was able to score because Syracuse (16-6, 6-5) was focused on the other Chris, Chris Thomas.

With Billy Edelin out of action, Thomas finally played a good game against Syracuse after several less than stellar showings. He scored 25 points, his fourth straight 20-point effort, on 6-of-16 shooting, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range, and handed out five assists. More importantly, to Thomas and his teammates, he regained control of the tempo after Syracuse made its run.

After outplaying Syracuse in the first half and leading 38-29, Notre Dame found itself trailing 51-50 with 11:36 remaining in the game. During the first eight minutes of the half, Syracuse shot 9-of-12 (75 percent) compared to Notre Dame's 4-for-12 (33.3 percent) showing.

"Where most point guards would have tried to do too much, "Brey said of his point guard," Chris poised himself and led us back into it, letting his teammates do the work."

After a jumper by Torrian Jones gave the Irish a 54-53 lead, Thomas knocked down a triple to extend the lead to four. After a Syracuse timeout, Thomas forced Hakim Warrick to turn the ball over and then hit Chris Quinn, who found center Tom Timmermans wide open at the top of the key for a three to put Notre Dame ahead 60-53.

Timmermans' three, only his second make in 13 career attempts and his first make in five attempts this season, was the turning point that allowed Chris Quinn to get hot.

Quinn, with Syracuse playing man-to-man after Notre Dame beat up on the 2-3 zone early in the game, took McNamara 1-on-1 on four straight Notre Dame possessions hitting four jumpers, two from 3-point range.

"After Tommy's three and with the defense zoning in on Chris (Thomas),"Quinn said. "It enabled me to get going and take Gerry (McNamara)."

Timmermans finished with 12 points and Torrian Jones added 12 of his own to make up for the absence of Notre Dame's big man, Torin Francis (14.2 ppg, 8.8 rpg), who did not play for the second straight game because of back problems.

"We've become a strictly perimeter team these last two games," Brey said.

"That's worked out for us and when Torin comes back we'll have that inside option to complement the confidence the Chris's are playing with."

While Notre Dame has found its stride, winning its third straight game, Syracuse continues to struggle and search for answers.

The Orangemen seemed to solve their offensive problems against Miami, but regressed in the first half of the game, shooting just 30 percent on 9-of-30 shooting.

"We got off to a poor offensive start," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said at the post-game press conference. "I think we did a good job of getting back into it, until we started making mistakes again."

After shooting 75 percent during the first eight minutes of the second half, the Orangemen shot just 31 percent on 9-of-29 shooting the rest of the game.

"We're primarily an offensive team," Boeheim said. "We have to beat them by scoring more points than they do and that involves making shots. When Hakim and Gerry go 3-for-17 down the stretch we aren't going to win."

Warrick and McNamara put up big numbers for the Orangemen, scoring 28 and 20 points respectively, but didn't shoot well in the first half, going 2-for-8 and 1-for-9.

The two stars got going in the second half during Syracuse's run, but cooled down again. Warrick shot 9-for-20 and grabbed 16 rebounds, while McNamara finished the game with six assists and shot just 7-for 23 from the field including 3-of-15 from behind the arc.

"They're shots I can make," McNamara said. "But, if I don't start hitting them I won't be able to use that excuse anymore."

No one else scored in double figures for the Orangemen who lost at home to Notre Dame for the first time since 1997.

Last year Notre Dame was on their way to beating Syracuse in the Carrier Dome until Carmelo Anthony led the Orangemen on a second half run that, unlike this year, the Irish couldn't stop.

"Our guys talked about last year at the meal last night," Brey said. "I'm really proud of our guys. They wanted this bad and they had that look in their eyes and went out and got it."

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