SYRACUSE, New York (Ticker) -- Gerry McNamara may have wanted to go to fellow freshman Carmelo Anthony on the game's biggest possession, but Syracuse could not find fault with his decision.
McNamara drained a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left to cap a rally from a 12-point deficit in the second half as No. 18 Syracuse posted a thrilling 82-80 Big East Conference victory over ninth-ranked Notre Dame.
A 3-pointer by Matt Carroll gave Notre Dame (19-5, 7-3 Big East West) an 80-79 lead with 26 seconds remaining. Syracuse (17-4, 8-3) called a timeout and the ball was expected to go to Anthony, who carried the Orangemen with 18 of his 26 points in the second half.
McNamara had the ball on the right side as Anthony went across the lane to post up. But McNamara saw Notre Dame's zone defense, decided against passing and fired away and nailed his jumper to give Syracuse the lead for good.
"I knew it was going to go in the second it left my hand," McNamara said. "The play was designed for Carmelo, but for some reason they left me open. I'm not going to ask too many questions as to why."
"They left the wrong person open," Anthony said.
Fighting Irish coach Mike Brey second-guessed his decision to come out of the timeout in a zone.
"We showed man-to-man and folded back to a zone," Brey said. "We lost him (McNamara). In hindsight, I wish we stayed man-to-man. We got distracted by Anthony and lost McNamara."
Notre Dame went to Carroll on its final possesion and he had the ball knocked away by Jeremy McNeil with five seconds left. The Orangemen batted the loose ball high into the air as time expired.
Syracuse extended its home winning streak to 16 games, including a 14-0 mark this season. The Orangemen are one-half game ahead of Notre Dame and Pittsburgh in the West division.
A 3-pointer by Chris Thomas triggered a 12-2 run by Notre Dame that opened up a 55-48 advantage with 14:23 left. Carroll had a pair of 3-pointers in that spurt. A pair of foul shots by Dan Miller gave the Fighting Irish a 67-55 cushion with 10:48 to go.
Anthony caught fire as the 6-8 freshman exploited the defense by the 6-8 Miller. Anthony score 10 points in a 14-2 run for a 69-69 tie with 6:36 to go.
"We were kind of dead in the water, but Melo made a few buckets and we got it down to four quickly," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. "We rode Melo the whole second half. We were going to go with him until they stopped him."
McNamara netted 17 points and Hakim Warrick had 15 and 12 rebounds. Freshman Billy Edelin came off the bench for 11 points and Anthony added nine rebounds.
Carroll scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half and was part of an impressive 3-point display by the Irish. Carroll, Miller and Thomas each made four from beyond the arc as Notre Dame shot 46 percent (12-of-26).
However, the defense of the Irish failed them in the second half as the Orangemen shot 50 percent (17-of-34).
"I'm extremely disappointed," Brey said. "I really commend Syracuse, they are an extremely talented offensive team."
Freshman Torin Francis scored 17 points, Thomas had 16 and Miller 14 for Notre Dame, which lost for the sixth time in seven games at the Carrier Dome. The Irish fell to 6-3 in games decided by six points or less.
"I told Mike (Brey) walking off the court that his guys always seem to win these close games at the end," Boeheim said. "I think they were just due to lose one of these."