SU hoops surpasses Notre Dame in second half thriller, 78-73

SU hoops surpasses Notre Dame in second half thriller, 78-73

Four freshmen lead Orange to last-minute victory with combined 51 points.
Published: January 14, 2023 | Updated: January 15th, 2023 at 11:26 am
Syracuse's Chris Bell (0) attempts a shot as Notre Dame's Trey Wertz (3) tries to block during an ACC basketball game Saturday at JMA Wireless Dome.
Syracuse's Chris Bell (0) attempts a shot as Notre Dame's Trey Wertz (3) tries to block during an ACC basketball game Saturday at JMA Wireless Dome.

As ACC conference play heats up, both SU basketball and the Fighting Irish needed a conference win to separate themselves from the middle of the ACC pack. With the last contest between the two squads being a hotly contested one-point win for the Orange, Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey and his group needed a win even more than the Orange, coming in at 9-8 and a dismal 1-5 ACC record.

Syracuse (12-6; 5-2 ACC) came back with less than three minutes on the clock to beat Notre Dame 78-73.

The Fighting Irish came in hot with desperation, taking a four-point lead into the second half on the back of nine first-half threes.

SU forward Chris Bell came out with three 3’s of his own and led the Orange in scoring in the first half with 11, but both point guard Judah Mintz and shooting guard Joseph Girard III struggled in the first 20 minutes, combining for only 10 points on 3-12 shooting.

Syracuse's Judah Mintz (3) attempts to run by Notre Dame's JJ Starling (1) during an ACC basketball game Saturday at JMA Wireless Dome.

Syracuse's Judah Mintz (3) attempts to run by Notre Dame's JJ Starling (1).

The Syracuse bench reacts to a missed call during an ACC basketball game against Notre Dame Saturday at JMA Wireless Dome.

The Syracuse bench reacts to a missed call.

Notre Dame opened the second half with much of the same as the first. The Fighting Irish added another six threes in the first eight minutes of the second half.

JJ Starling, the highly touted freshman for the Fighting Irish who received cheers in pregame introductions as a Baldwinsville native, delivered a nasty tomahawk dunk in the face of Chris Bell.

That seemed to set the tone in the second half for Notre Dame.

However, Bell’s fourth threes of the game cut the Notre Dame lead to six with a little over nine minutes left, and that seemed to be the turning point for this comeback. SU got even closer after some full-court pressure and a Justin Taylor pull-up 3, cutting the lead to three.

The Fighting Irish went cold from downtown during the run, and the energy in the JMA Wireless Dome swung things in SU’s favor. Some full-court pressure applied by the Orange, primarily fueled by the heart and will of standout freshman Maliq Brown, and Bell’s fifth three put SU up 71-70.

However, Marcus Hammond immediately came back with a three, only for Mintz to come down on the next possession and even the score at 73 with his now-patented pull-up mid-range jumper.

Notre Dame had a crucial turnover on an inbound play with two minutes left, and ultimately, Mintz and center Jesse Edwards salted away the game at the free throw line down the stretch for a thrilling 78-73 victory.

Mintz, who went just 3-for-9 and missed all three of his three-point attempts, explained how he was able to lead the team to a win despite not having a great shooting night.

“I knew I was going to have to impact the game in a different way,” Mintz said. “I really didn’t have it going in the first half, but the coaches told us to keep fighting, and that’s what we did.”

One of the more notable things from this game was the crunch-time lineup, consisting of Mintz, Edwards, Taylor, Brown and Bell, four freshmen and one senior, which head coach Jim Boeheim admitted is more freshmen on the court at one time than he’s ever had.

Mintz said he’s eager to step into lofty expectations as a freshman player.

“We’re halfway through the season now, and being a freshman, it’s no excuse anymore,” Mintz said. “We’re all here, we’re all ready to play, and it’s our time.”

Up next, Syracuse will face No. 16 Miami (14-3; 5-2 ACC) in Coral Gables, Florida on Monday at 6 p.m.

Notre Dame's Marcus Hammond (10) goes up for shot as Syracuse's Chris Bell (0) attempts to block during an ACC basketball game Saturday at JMA Wireless Dome.
Notre Dame's Marcus Hammond (10) goes up for shot as Syracuse's Chris Bell (0) attempts to block.