SOUTH BEND, In. — With their top two players out and zero wins at the Carrier Dome in over 10 years, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish had a tough match-up against a very athletic Syracuse Orange team, who had wins over teams like University of Connecticut, Georgetown and Virginia Tech in non-conference play.
Austin Torres got his first start of the season alongside D.J. Harvey, Martinas Geben, Rex Pflueger and T.J. Gibbs, who were tasked with shutting down an athletic Orange team, highlighted by leading scorer Tyus Battle and Canadian freshman Oshae Brissett.
Saturday’s matchup was a very low scoring affair, with Notre Dame displaying one of their worst shooting performances of the season
Notre Dame only scored one point in the opening six minutes of the first half before T.J. Gibbs got the Fighting Irish out of their dry spell, draining a jumper.
Besides their initial 1-0 deficit at the beginning of the game, Syracuse led for the entire first half, entering the second half up 28-19.
The lack of scoring did not stop in the second half as Syracuse was only up 38-37 with seven minutes left in the game. Notre Dame finally achieved their first lead since it was 1-0 at the beginning of the game, when they went up 45-44 with just over two minutes left.
Battle, who finished with 21 points, drained a three pointer to tie the ball game up at 49 followed by a steal on Martinas Geben, giving the Orange possession as the final seconds ticked.
As he pulled up for a shot, Battle lost the ball which was picked up by Geben, who passed to a streaking Gibbs. He failed to make the fast break layup only to have Pflueger save the day and tip in the rebound to put the Irish up 51-49.
Even without their top two scorers and a terrible shooting performance, Notre Dame was able to improve to 3-0 in ACC play, beating the Syracuse Orange, 51-49.
T.J. Gibbs led the way for the Irish, recording 18 points, four assists, four rebounds while Rex Pflueger added 12 points and seven rebounds.
Both D.J. Harvey and Martinas Geben dropped four points but did well on the glass; Geben grabbed 14 rebounds while Harvey pulled down nine. The bench contributed 11 points, with Elijah Burns leading the reserves in points, scoring seven.
As mentioned before, Tyus Battle led the Orange with 21 points while Canadian Oshae Brissett and Frank Howard each scored 10 point, with Brissett also grabbing 12 rebounds.
While Syracuse will be taking on the eighth-ranked Virginia Cavaliers on Tuesday night, Notre Dame will be taking on the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets this Wednesday for the second time this season.
Notre Dame bested the Yellow Jackets in their first meeting of the season, 68-59. Tip off is set for 7 PM EST broadcasting live on ESPN 2.
– R. Scarfone