Notre Dame ran into all sorts of trouble Monday at the Carrier Dome in New York, with issues from the field, at the stripe and against a long 2-3 zone in a 63-47 loss to No. 9 Syracuse. The 25th-ranked Fighting Irish, which were coming off three straight victories, aren’t the only ones that had trouble in the Orange’s drafty and cavernous arena.
Jerian Grant and the Irish were on the losing side of a battle with brother Jerami Grant and the Orange Monday
Syracuse has now won a school-record 36 consecutive home games, which is the longest active streak in Division I. Head coach Jim Boeheims’s crew improved to 19-3 overall and 7-2 in the Big East Conference (alone in first place) after dropping back-to-back road games at Villanova and Pittsburgh. Notre Dame slipped to 18-5 and 6-4 in league play.
“Their zone distorted us; we weren’t able to get into the gaps,” Irish head coach Mike Brey told UND.com after his team shot just 8-for-29 (27.6 percent) in the second half, including 2-for-11 from 3-point land. We had some looks that you’ve got to make if you’re going to beat them. When we’ve beaten them, you’ve got to shoot better than 6-for-20 from the 3-point line. Even from the foul line we had some key free throws we didn’t make. [Syracuse] earned it; they played better.”
Junior forward C.J. Fair led the Orange with 18 points and 10 rebounds, followed by freshman forward Jerami Grant, who notched a career-best 14 points, added six boards and one demonstrative block on Irish senior forward Jack Cooley. It was the first time Jerami Grant squared off against older brother Jerian Grant, Notre Dame’s junior guard, in an organized game.
Jerian Grant paced the Irish with 15 points and five assists, but committed four turnovers. Slow to get going offensively, and draped with defenders getting away with plenty of physical play, Cooley contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the year.
“I think [Jerian] wanted it so bad because he wanted to beat his brother,” Brey said. “Obviously Jerami Grant played fabulously against us. We really couldn’t defend him. We didn’t have many answers for him; he was the difference.
“But Jerian, in his way, tried to get us going. I think they’re very competitive, and I’m sure they’ll get on each other here in the next week.”
The out-of-sync Irish hoped to get to the locker room down only four points, but a defensive breakdown in the closing seconds led to a 30-24 halftime deficit.
Syracuse jumped out to a 10-0 lead before Notre Dame converted its first field goal — an Eric Atkins’ 3-pointer — with 14:08 to play in the first half. The Irish went on an 11-0 run to take the lead at the 11:33 mark. Jerian Grant connected on a triple from two steps behind the arc, Cooley got the ball on the move for a close-range basket and Atkins netted another 3-pointer to cap a spree where ND used quick ball movement to exploit a Syracuse zone that had been causing trouble up to that point.
Down 15-18, Notre Dame freshman Zach Auguste threw the ball away, followed by two more Irish turnovers, a missed jumper by Knight and a blocked Atkins jumper. Syracuse capitalized with a 7-4 run to push its advantage back up to 26-19.
The Irish started the second half 2-for-15 from the field as Syracuse continued to build a lead that eventually ballooned to 16 points. The Orange finished 22-for-45 (48.9 percent) from the floor and made just 4 of 15 attempts from behind the arc. But they scored 16 points on 12 Notre Dame turnovers, outrebounded the Irish 32-28 and outscored the visitors 15-5 at the foul line.
Shooting just 6-for-20 for the game from deep and 5-for-10 from the stripe, Notre Dame couldn’t get the spark it needed.
“I thought early, and maybe throughout the game, we had some costly turnovers,” Brey said. “We’re better with the ball than that. I almost feel like we turned it over 20 times. It said we had 12; it feels like we had 20. But they came at key times for us.”
Atkins finished with nine points, four assists and four turnovers. Freshman forward Cameron Biedscheid chipped in with seven points.
“I think you have to give Syracuse credit because they’re really long in that zone and they hurry you a little bit,” Brey said. “When you have a long guy flying at you, you tend to be a little sheepish on the release. I just think their length bothered us. Their two guards up top are bigger than last year, and so even our guards didn’t get very good looks.”
Notre Dame has some time to rest up before hosting Louisville Saturday at Purcell Pavilion, a game that is already sold out.