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Notre Dame Basketball

Irish Stun Orange 88-87

January 4, 2020
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Winless on the road no more.

Short-handed, out of timeouts and again seeking to overcome key injuries, Notre Dame staged a resilient second-half rally Saturday at Syracuse, made countless clutch plays down the stretch and outlasted the host Orange, 88-87, inside the Carrier Dome.

“That was an unbelievable college game, wasn’t it,” Irish coach Mike Brey said as he opened postgame comments. “You think one will be, and again I’m in a better mood because I came out on the good end of it, but I still would have said that.

“Two skilled teams, shots going in, people passing the ball. I guess we had a little bit more firepower. Great for our group, because we have not really been able to finish one away from our building in tough atmospheres. But to get this one, hopefully, we can grow from it.”

Notre Dame (10-4, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), which lost Rex Pflueger to injury just before halftime and saw Juwan Durham foul out with more than two minutes to play, scrapped its way to its first league road win since last season at Boston College.

Prentiss Hubb hit a critical 3-pointer to tie the game late at 84, John Mooney put the Irish up 86-84 with a fabulous interior bucket and then Hubb --- whistled earlier in the second half for a controversial technical foul --- calmly sank both free throws of a one-and-one situation to provide the winning points.

The senior Mooney finished with a game-high 28 points and 14 boards --- his 12th double-double in 14 games, Hubb added 22 and T.J. Gibbs --- whose scorching first-half shooting gave the Irish an early lead --- closed with 21. Limited by foul troubles, Durham nonetheless grabbed 10 rebounds, scored six points and swatted away three Syracuse shots.

The Orange (8-6, 1-2 ACC) were down 88-84 in the waning seconds when Joseph Girard hit a desperation 3-pointer and fell to the floor, trying to draw a foul on Irish defenders who appeared to make no or minimal contact as Girard plopped to the hardwood.

The Fighting Irish outrebounded Syracuse, 39-36, and shot a blistering 15-for-31 as a team from 3-point range. Notre Dame also sank 11 of 15 free throws, including 5-for-6 down the closing stretch.

The NCAA’s assist-to-turnover leader, Notre Dame also doled out 26 assists against a scant nine turnovers as it secured consecutive wins inside the Carrier Dome for the first time since the early 1990s.

Syracuse also hit 15 of 31 3-point attempts as it got 43 combined points from Girard and Buddy Boeheim.

Notre Dame rode Gibbs’ torrid first half twice to nine-point leads, the latter time at 20-11. But the Orange then uncorked a 23-8 run that seemingly had the hosts in control.

The Irish, however, steadied themselves before the half --- at the cost of the Pflueger injury.

On a loose ball, Pflueger helped clear a path to the rack for Hubb, whose steal-and-layup whittled the Irish deficit to 34-30. They would trail 40-37 at the break.

Pflueger was initially declared able to return, but the senior could not return to action after hobbling to the locker room with an apparent injury to the same left knee he had surgically repaired a year ago.

Notre Dame’s early-year ACC road tour continues this week, as the Irish visit N.C State Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Wolfpack lost Saturday against Clemson.

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Irish Stun Orange 88-87

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