Notre Dame rides 61-point first half past Syracuse

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Notre Dame became the first team to crack the century mark in the Carrier Dome in 10 years.

After missing their first three 3-pointers, the Irish (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today, No. 21 AP) went 10-for-14 from behind the arc to close the opening half and beat the Orange 103-91 on Tuesday night.

"We got off to a great start and played fearlessly and with great unselfishness," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "We're good offensively. We can put numbers on the board."

West Virginia was the last team to score 100 in Syracuse, beating the Orange 101-79 on Dec. 4, 1996.

Syracuse abandoned its signature 2-3 zone defense for most of the game because of the tough matchups the Irish provided. But whatever defensive alignment the Orange chose proved no match for the Irish, who even played without 6-foot-9 Rob Kurz (sprained
ankle), their second-leading scorer at 14 points per game and leading rebounder at 8.8 per game.

Russell Carter and Colin Falls more than made up for his absence. Each hit four 3-pointers and combined for 29 points in the opening period, and most were wide-open looks against the defenseless Orange.

"We had to play them man-to-man, and we couldn't do it," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "Inside, we had no effort until the end of the game. That's just not going to get it done. The only thing that was a positive is we keep trying."

Notre Dame (18-4, 6-3 Big East) won for the first time in four conference road games and halted a three-game losing streak against the reeling Orange (15-7, 4-4), who lost their third straight game.

"This was big to come out and get a road win, especially coming here," said freshman Luke Harangody, who had 21 points and 13 rebounds, both season highs. "This game gives us a lot of confidence."

Syracuse had dropped consecutive road games to St. John's and Louisville, allowing a pair of decisive 3-pointers in the closing minutes of each contest. The Orange's third straight loss was pretty much in the books by halftime.

Notre Dame scored 18 points off 10 Syracuse turnovers in the first half and left the floor with a 61-42 lead, just five points off the team record set against Ball State in 1964 and matched in 1986 against Miami.

It was also just four points off the all-time record for points allowed in a half by the Orange. Syracuse gave up 65 in the second half in a 97-85 loss to Navy in March 1986 and hadn't allowed 60 points in the first half of a game since 1988.

"It was embarrassing," said Syracuse center Darryl Watkins, who had 10 points and six rebounds before fouling out in the final two minutes. "I hope that it never happens again. We were just letting them do whatever. Every shot they were taking they were

Carter finished with 18 points and Falls had 16 before fouling out in the closing minutes, while sophomore Zach Hillesland had a career-high 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists and freshman Tory Jackson had a season-high 19 points and seven assists.

Demetris Nichols had 29 points to lead Syracuse and Terrence Roberts had 20 points and six rebounds. Eric Devendorf, who had led Syracuse in scoring in five of seven conference games, did not score, missing all 11 shots he took.

After Nichols hit a 3 to give Syracuse an 11-9 lead at 16:30, the Irish began their barrage. Carter and Falls each made a pair of 3s to key a 16-4 run.

The Orange retaliated with a 13-5 surge, with Nichols scoring five straight points and Roberts beginning and ending it with slam dunks.

The second dunk moved Syracuse within 30-28 midway through the period as the Carrier Dome crowd erupted, but the Irish quickly silence the place with an 11-point spurt.

Falls and Carter each hit 3-pointers, Harangody had a slam dunk and Jonathan Peoples swished a 3 from the left corner -- his only shot of the period -- to give Notre Dame a 41-28 lead with 7:35 remaining.

Syracuse moved back within 10 points three times, the last when Paul Harris fed Roberts for a dunk to make it 50-40 with 2:46 left.

The Irish finished the half with an 11-2 run, with Jackson converting a pair of layups in the final minute.