A quick take on Syracuse’s 88-87 loss to Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome:
WHAT HAPPENED: With Syracuse up 84-81 with 1:20 to go, Prentiss Hubb hit a rushed 3-pointer to tie the game. After Joe Girard III missed a long 3-pointer, John Mooney showed why he is the NCAA’s leading rebounder, sticking back a miss to put the Irish up 86-84. The Irish were up 88-84 with seconds to go when Girard hit a 3-pointer and appeared to be fouled with an opportunity for a 4-point play. But the officials swallowed their whistles and Notre Dame inbounded to run out the clock in a while back-and-forth game.
ANALYSIS: With Syracuse recording zero quality non-conference wins, their path to any postseason tournament hinges on winning games like these. The Orange simply didn’t have enough down the stretch, with Girard and Hughes missing key baskets down the stretch. Notre Dame predictably hurt Syracuse inside, with Mooney going off for 26 points and 12 rebounds, including several critical offensive rebounds down the stretch. A key turning point happened with 7:06 left, when Bourama Sidibe picked up his fourth foul. He had been doing a reasonable job of guarding the basket following a benching from Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim midway through the second half, but Boeheim opted to bench Sidibe the rest of the way, opening a vulnerability on the glass (14 Irish offensive rebounds).
HERO: There was no love lost between Hubb and Girard. After Girard missed out on a rebound attempt with 5:29 to go that ended up in the hands of (who else) Mooney for a stick-back layup, Hubb stood over Girard and taunted him. Hubb was called for a technical foul, which set off a spark in Girard. After he hit the two technical free throws, Girard went right at Hubb, with a step-back jumper from the left baseline. Two plays later, it was Girard again, hitting a deep 3-pointer after he was left alone. It was part of a 17 point outing for Girard, though he didn’t record an assist, and missed a critical 3-pointer with 1:05 to go that could’ve propelled SU to the win.
ZERO: Syracuse’s bench was once again a non-factor. Aside from seven points and three rebounds from Quincy Guerrier in 17 minutes, Boeheim only used Howard Washington in six scoreless minutes. It seems like another season with a narrow rotation, with essentially 5.5 players.
WHAT’S NEXT: Syracuse hosts Virginia Tech on Jan. 7 at the Carrier Dome at 9 p.m. TV: ACC Network.