Orangemen take division lead, stay unbeaten at home


SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Gerry McNamara knows how to send a crowd home happy.

Playing in front of 32,116 people at the Carrier Dome, including
about 2,000 from his hometown of Scranton, Pa., the freshman guard
hit a 3-pointer with 18 seconds left to give Syracuse (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) an
82-80 victory over Notre Dame (No. 9, No. 10) on Saturday.

"I was shooting the ball. I didn't care if I hadn't hit a shot
the entire game before that, I was taking that shot," said
McNamara, who was exaggerating some because he was 6-for-16 from
the field until then, including 2-for-8 from 3-point range.

His coach felt the same way.

"I don't know what he was shooting for the game but I like him
shooting that shot," Orangemen coach Jim Boeheim said of the 3
from in front of Syracuse's bench. "He has great confidence and he
wasn't going to let 2,000 people from Scranton down."

Buses filled with McNamara's fans make the 2-hour trip from
Scranton for home games and the numbers keep getting bigger.

"Two-thousand people. That says a lot about my fans and
Scranton," said McNamara, who had 17 points and six assists.
"They're showing support for me and I'm trying my hardest to give
something back to them."

The win kept Syracuse unbeaten at home this season and, coupled
with Seton Hall's 73-61 victory over No. 7 Pittsburgh on Saturday,
allowed the Orangemen (17-4, 8-3) to take a half-game lead in the
Big East West Division over the Fighting Irish (19-5, 7-3) and

The top two teams in the division get byes into the tournament

There was still plenty of action after McNamara's eventual

Notre Dame's Matt Carroll then drove the lane, his shot was
partially blocked by Jeremy McNeil, and the ball went to Syracuse's
Hakim Warrick, who threw the ball high in the air with about 5
seconds to play.

When the ball finally landed near midcourt, the buzzer sounded
as players scrambled for it and part of the biggest crowd at the
Carrier Dome since 1996 ran onto the court.

"We got set defensively and Jeremy made a great block and then
Hak lost his mind," Boeheim said. "I don't know what he was doing
but, fortunately for him, everything ended up well."

Warrick agreed with his coach about the final seconds.

"I didn't have a clue," he said. "I threw it up and I kept
listening for the horn to go off. It didn't go off and I was like, 'Uh-oh.' "

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey was more upset with himself over the
play that gave McNamara the open look for the 3.

"We showed man-to-man and pulled back to a zone and kind of
lost him. That's my fault. We should have played man-to-man on that
possession, I really kick myself," he said. "I don't think I put
my guys in a great position there. We were trying to go back to
zone but we got so Anthony-distracted and we lost (McNamara)."

Freshman Carmelo Anthony led Syracuse with 26 points, including
10 in a 14-2 run that brought the Orangemen into a 69-69 tie with
6 minutes left. Syracuse trailed by 12 points just four minutes

Notre Dame took the lead four times over the next three minutes,
but Syracuse tied the game each time.

Anthony finally gave the Orangemen a 79-77 lead with a basket
down low with 1 minutes to play. Carroll, who finished with 22
points and nine rebounds, gave the Fighting Irish their final lead,
80-79, on a 3-pointer with 26 seconds to go.

"I didn't want this team to lose and I was just doing
everything I could to prevent it from happening," Carroll said.
"But it wasn't enough."

Warrick had 15 points and 12 rebounds for Syracuse, which
committed only four turnovers.

Freshman Torin Francis had 17 points for Notre Dame, which had
won five of six, while Chris Thomas had 16 and Dan Miller 14.

The Irish were 12-for-26 from 3-point range, with Thomas and
Carroll each going 4-for-8, and Miller 4-for-9. Only McNamara hit a
3 for the Orangemen, who went 3-for-17 from beyond the arc.

Syracuse is 14-0 at home this season and has won 16 straight in
the Carrier Dome overall. The Orangemen improved to 2-1 this season
against Top 10 teams, having split two games with Pittsburgh.

"The crowd was huge today," Anthony said. "We needed the
crowd to be in it and we made our run in the second half when they
started getting loud.""

Brey said his team had a chance to win in a tough atmosphere.

"We had them down in the second half but they're an
exceptionally talented offensive team and they got it going in the
second half," he said. "But for us, even though it feels like
three losses in one game today, we have to regroup, go to West
Virginia and understand we're still in the West Division hunt with
what happened today at Seton Hall."