Warrick, McNamara send record crowd home happy

Saturday's much-anticipated showdown with Notre Dame did not go as a record-crowd of Orange fans would have scripted it. At least until the waning moments of the second half.

It was there that Hakim Warrick found yet one more way to amaze a crowd of 33,199, the most ever to see an on-campus college game. Grabbing a loose ball, Warrick went to the hoop, soaring over Notre Dame's Chris Quinn for the emphatic one-handed throw-down, bringing everyone to their feet. His dunk sparked a 21-7 Orange run over the game's final six minutes, propelling Syracuse (21-2, 8-1) to a 60-57 victory over the Irish (13-6, 5-4).

"I didn't want to send these people home mad," Warrick said. "It was tough. Notre Dame had nothing to lose and you could see the confidence in them. We were a little too hesitant, and we forced things offensively."

Trailing by 11 with six minutes and five seconds remaining in the second half, the Orange looked to Warrick, and he did not disappoint. The senior All-American and conference player of the year candidate scored Syracuse's next six points, dunking the ball twice, and connecting on two free throws.

Gerry MacNamara followed with a 3-pointer and, following a technical foul called on Irish coach Mike Brey, calmly sank two free-throws to tie the game at 50 with 3:24 left.

"I was thinking that I had to get out in the second half and get hot, and I did," MacNamara said. "The first half was frustrating. I tried to stay in rhythm all week, but to come out and shoot so poorly was tough."

With the game tied at 52 with two minutes to play, MacNamara was fouled on his 3-point attempt in the corner. He made all three, hit four in the final minute, and was 11-of-11 from the stripe in the half.

Following an Irish turnover on the ensuing possession, Syracuse guard Louie McCroskey followed an errant shot attempt, and was fouled as he came down with the offensive rebound. He made one of two free throws to stretch the game to two possessions at 56-52 with 45 seconds left.

It was a lead the Orange would never again relinquish. Irish guard Chris Thomas' desperation half-court shot - which would have tied the game - as time expired, bounced off the rim.

"We were losing for the game's first 35 minutes," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "We were beaten completely on offense, inside, and on the boards. Our offense is gonna have to change. Not many teams are going to give us a chance to come back from 10 down."

"Gerry really calmed down and he rarely has two bad halves," Boeheim said. "Against the man-to-man, they didn't double team Hak and he went to the basket in the second half. If teams don't double team him, we can win with two guys [on offense]. Other people are gonna have to start stepping up."

Warrick and McNamara, who combined for 9 points in a first half in which the Orange scored a season-low 20 points, scored 33 of Syracuse's 40 second-half points. Syracuse shot 58 percent from the floor in the second after missing 14 of their 21 first half shots.

Warrick, who was held to a season-low 12 points in the Orange's win in South Bend Jan. 10, got off to a slow start with only five points in the first 20 minutes. After missing 4-of-6 shots in the first half, Warrick went 5-for-7 in the second, showcasing his mid-range prowess, and his athletic ability at the rim.

Warrick, who has had documented struggles from the free-throw line this season, hit 5-of-7 from the stripe when the Orange needed them most in the second half.

"We were frustrated on offense, but did a really good job holding them to just 26 points," Warrick said. "This game just shows how mature this team is. We showed a lot of composure out there."

While most thought the Irish be most affected by the crowd, the Orange looked lethargic and lost in the first. It didn't look as if things could get much worse after they squandered a 17-point lead in a loss at Pittsburgh, but it did for the Orange in a first half in which they were 0-of-6 from 3-point range, were outrebounded 8-3 on the offensive boards, and allowed six different Irish players to score.

Torin Francis notched a double-double for the Irish with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Quinn added 12.

Despite being overmatched, the Orange found themselves down only six at the break because of a strong defense, and a little misfortune for the Irish. Notre Dame, losers of four games by a single point this season, shot just 35 percent from the floor in the first, and missed all seven of their free throw attempts. They were 6-of-17 from the line in the game.

Thomas, who was 1-of-14 from the floor in the two team's first matchup in South Bend, struggled through another off night. He was held to just five points, missing 10-of 12 shots.

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