Despite first-half struggles, Syracuse wins ACC-opener over Notre Dame

Syracuse wins ACC-opener over Notre Dame

Bourama Sidibe made big plays after Syracuse big men Marek Dolezaj and Paschal Chukwu fouled out.
Published: January 5, 2019

After trailing by one to Notre Dame at the half, a jumper from Frank Howard gave Syracuse a lead it wouldn’t relinquish, and the Orange finished with a 72-62 win over the Fighting Irish. This was the Orange’s ACC-opener.

“[The] first half I don’t think we were aware of where their shooters were and how good they were shooting the ball,” Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim said. “We had to play really good offensively in the first half just to get back in the game.”

Notre Dame (10-5, 0-2) made some big shots in the first half, going 13-29 in field goals and 7-17 in threes. T.J. Gibbs led both teams in scoring in the first with 12 points. But Syracuse (10-4, 1-0) picked it up and went on a 12-3 scoring run in about two and a half minutes, narrowing Notre Dame’s lead by only one.

After Howard’s early second-half jumper, Notre Dame wasn’t able to lead again for the rest of the game, although they came close at times.

“We got in big foul trouble inside, and we were able to overcome that,” Boeheim said. “I think we’ve been playing better, we’ve been practicing better. I thought Notre Dame really shot the ball well early.

With 6:06 left in the game, Marek Dolezaj fouled out after being called for a push. Six seconds later, Paschal Chukwu also fouled out, leaving Syracuse big man Bourama Sidibe to save the day. Sidibe had some pretty big plays in the last minutes of the game, blocking a shot from Notre Dame’s Nate Laszewski and grabbing two offensive and two defensive rebounds in the same amount of time.

“I thought Bourama made two of the biggest plays of the game down there drawing the charge and getting a block shot over there and got a couple rebounds,” Boeheim said. “Those were big plays. Everybody contributed, everybody helped.”

Sidibe hasn’t played necessarily well this season, but today’s game showed a different player. Sidibe put in the work when the team needed it the most, and he really contributed to the win.

Notre Dame had a strong first half in shooting, but they had a lot of trouble under the basket, mainly due to Syracuse’s stellar defense. The Irish only attempted eight lay-ups — and they only successfully sunk one. Additionally, the Irish had a lot of trouble sinking shots in the second half; they only went 7-29 in field goals and 4-16 in threes. Syracuse, however, went 13-34 in field goals and 5-15 in threes. It wasn’t much better than Notre Dame, but Boeheim said, “We made shots when we had to.”

Syracuse wasn’t able to use foul shots to their scoring advantage, as they took their first shots with four minutes left in the game. Oshae Brissett sank two, and overall the team went 4-5 from the line…but Notre Dame was at the line for 17 shots.

Elijah Hughes ended with a career-high 22 points and 10 rebounds.

Despite some roadblocks, Syracuse was able to start their conference play with a win. The Orange take on Clemson in the Carrier Dome Wednesday at 8 p.m.