In a conference where talented teams stretch from first to last, Notre Dame remains the leader of the ACC conference after a dominating win over the Syracuse Orangemen 84-66.
Syracuse has had a tough season thus, with a win-loss record of 11-9, but regardless still possess talented players and draw in talented recruits each year that make them a threat in every game.
6-9 forward Tyler Lydon can be dangerous in the paint as he averages 13.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game, giving 6-5 forward Bonzie Colson a tall task. No pun intended.
Notre Dame hasn’t beaten the Orangemen in four seasons, with the Irish losing 81-66 in last years matchup and 65-60 two seasons ago when Syracuse last played in South Bend. Notre Dame’s last win against the Orangemen was back in 2011-12 when the Irish knocked off Syracuse at home 67-58.
Notre Dame beat a good Syracuse team that year that eventually finished their season in the Elite 8
Following the game, a smiling Mike Brey said:
“I think for us, maybe we needed to exercise some Syracuse demons, they’ve had our number”.
Besides Syracuse’s initial 2-0 lead, the Irish led for the entire game after VJ Beachem tied the ball game with a jumper, followed by a Matt Farrell three.
Notre Dame aggressively attacked the Orangemen’s tough zone defence, but when the Irish are hitting their shots, a zone can be easily broken. The Irish hit 14 of 31 field goals and shot 50% from the three point line in the first half.
Mike Brey mentioned what he told his guys as the game approached knowing they would face Syracuse’s zone:
“I think for us, you know not to over analyze it, and cut, move against it, get touches at the foul line. You know one of the things we wanted to do was drive…I thought all our guys really at times had some key drives”.
And the Irish did just that. Notre Dame moved the ball quick around the perimeter before someone like Matt Farrell, who is quick off the dribble, would take off to the basket.
Notre Dame got to the foul line often, shooting a perfect 6-6 in the first half and 9-10 in the second half for an impressive 93.8% foul shot percentage overall.
The largest lead the Irish possessed in the first half was 15 points before heading into the locker room up 41-32. With the Irish shooting well and their ability to break Syracuse’s zone, Notre Dame needed to be able to close the game, something they have struggled with this season.
However the Irish did not take their foot off the gas, bringing the same intensity to offence as they did in the first half and attacking the basket.
Notre Dame out rebounded Syracuse 39-28 overall, and beat them on the offensive boards grabbing 10 versus their seven.
The Irish did an excellent job in their defensive efforts shutting the Orangemen down from three point range as they only made three the entire second half.
Syrcause could not hang around with the Irish as Notre Dame went on to win 84-66 and improved to 6-1 in ACC conference play.
Notre Dame as a team shot 49.2% from the field and 42.3% from three point range as well as 15-16 from the charity stripe.
VJ Beachem had himself a game as he set a new career high in points, scoring 30 points and grabbing seven rebounds.
“Certainly thrilled about VJ, you know that was probably coming and I think what helped VJ a little bit was guarding Lydon…but his teammates did a great job finding him”, said Mike Brey.
He went on to say, “I thought what he did a great job was he moved himself around to different places in the zone on the baseline, he got to the foul line a couple times”.
Bonzie Colson recorded a double-double scoring 14 points and grabbing 14 rebounds while also being flawless from the free throw line going a perfect six for six.
Steve Vasturia scored 11 points, grabbing three rebounds and dished out four assists while Matt Farrell was doing what Matt Farrell does best and that’s being the total package at the point guard position. The underrated point guard scored 15 points and dished out nine assists including a spectacular behind the back pass to VJ Beachem leading to a dunk. Farrell also recorded two steals.
Martinas Geben had seven points on the day and grabbed four rebounds in 17 minutes of playing time.
The Fighting Irish are back in action on Wednesday January 24th at 8 PM as they welcome the #16 Virginia Cavaliers. This is the first game of a very tough three game span that will kick off with the Cavaliers, followed by Georgia Tech (11-8) and ending with the #18 Duke Blue Devils.
– R. Scarfone