Playing without All-American Bonzie Colson or star guard Matt Farrell, Notre Dame snapped a five game losing streak at the Carrier Dome to beat Syracuse on their home court for the first time since 2007. Without their stars, Notre Dame needed a total team effort and a dramatic finish to upend the Orange 51-49 with the game winner coming with just under three seconds to go on a put back by Rex Pflueger.
— Notre Dame MBB (@NDmbb) January 6, 2018
Notre Dame started slow on Saturday afternoon but they finished strong. The Irish scored just 19 points in the first half but stingy defense kept them in the game and down just nine heading into the second half. Their strong defense continued in the second half and eventually the offense followed.
TJ Gibbs paced the Irish with 18 points while Pflueger’s game winner gave him 12 on the day. No other Notre Dame player scored more than 7 points on the afternoon as the rest of the team struggled to find their shots. Freshman DJ Harvey, fresh off a career high Wednesday night against NC State, scored just 4 points on 1 of 14 shooting including 1 of 7 from three point range.
The Irish were able to stay in the game and eventually come away with the win despite their offensive struggles because of the job they did on the glass – especially on the offensive side of the ball. Notre Dame picked up 42 rebounds including 21 offensive boards. Martinas Geben led the charge with a career high 14 rebounds. He has 27 rebounds combined the last two games since Colson was lost for 8 weeks with a broken foot.
Notre Dame is now 2-0 since Colson’s injury and improved to 13-3 on the season. On Wednesday the Irish beat NC State to give Mike Brey the program record for wins playing without Colson and while losing Farrell to an ankle injury in the process.
With Colson out, every win is big. With Colson and Farrell both out today, this one was huge for Notre Dame. Syracuse came into the contest with an identical 12-3 record like the Irish. Combine that with Notre Dame’s struggles in upstate New York over the last decade and you have to tip your cap to the Irish and head coach Mike Brey.
The bad news for Notre Dame is that Farrell wont’ be back for Notre Dame’s next contest on Wednesday night when the Irish travel to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech as originally thought. Mike Brey announced after the game that Farrell will likely miss the next four games after stating Wednesday night he would likely only miss today’s contest. Tip off is 7:00 with the game broadcast on ESPNU.