Syracuse got a lay-up from Judah Mintz and a smart closeout from John Bol Ajak in the final 15 seconds to pull out a 62-61 victory at Notre Dame in the first ACC game for both teams on Saturday. Mintz drove the left side after an inbounds pass before the Fighting Irish (6-2) could foul for a basket that put the Orange (4-4) on top, then Ajak closed out in the right corner on Dane Goodwin, whose jumper clanged off the rim.
Mintz’s winning deuce was the last of his seven second half points and nine overall after SU rode Jesse Edwards for much of the game. Edwards played the entire game, finishing with 22 points and 14 rebounds, including 16 markers in the first half on 7-for-9 shooting from the floor.
Joe Girard III had a bounceback game, finishing with 20 points on a variety of shots, ranging from a couple threes to a pair of steals for breakaway layups to two backdoor cuts for layups off passes from Ajak.
The Irish found themselves in a tight game after cooling off from the perimeter after halftime. After making 8-of-18 threes in the first half, Notre Dame made just 3-of-15 from deep in the second session. Goodwin led the hosts with 16 points, including three triples in the first half, to go with nine rebounds, while Cormac Ryan had 14 points, most coming on his four threes.
Goodwin’s three early three-pointers helped stake the Fighting Irish to a 13-8 lead less than four minutes into the game. Syracuse came back a few minutes later, scoring six straight on a couple Edwards scores inside around a Girard fast break lay-in for a 19-18 edge.
The Irish retaliated, eventually grabbing a four-point lead with a little over eight minutes on the clock, but Edwards scored four points in another Orange run, this one seven straight points. Justin Taylor added a three in the middle that put SU on top and they held a 30-27 lead with 6:20 left.
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The Syracuse offense struggled until half, but did get a three from Girard on their final possession that knotted the score at 35 a side. Notre Dame got a couple early threes out of the break, the latter giving them a 41-38 lead.
The Irish lost their perimeter touch, though, allowing the Orange to go back in front on an 8-2 run. This time Girard scored twice to start things off, then Edwards got a pair of baskets inside after the Irish got their score, giving SU a 46-43 lead.
Notre Dame would tie the game three times, but Syracuse outscored them by a 7-2 margin over a five-minute span for a 60-55 advantage with 2:28 left on the clock. The hosts struck back with a three and a three-point-play to go up by a single point and set the stage for the final seconds.
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