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Updated: Monday, February 16, 2004 10:59 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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Notre Dame 84, (24) Syracuse 72

SYRACUSE, New York (Ticker) -- Notre Dame is playing itself back into NCAA Tournament contention.

Chris Quinn scored 10 of his 22 points in a crucial two-minute stretch late in the second half and Chris Thomas continued his resurgence as the Fighting Irish defeated 24th-ranked Syracuse, 84-72, for their third straight win.

Notre Dame (13-9, 7-5 Big East Conference) had been one of the nation's more disappointing teams but has beaten Connecticut, Seton Hall and the Orangemen in an eight-day span to bolster its tournament hopes.

"This was a great win for us," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "I'm happy that we took some good habits from home on the road. This was a big step forward."

Quinn's 3-pointer gave the Fighting Irish a 64-55 lead with 5:24 remaining and started a stretch in which he scored 10 straight points for Notre Dame. He hit two running jumpers and another 3-pointer that made it 71-59 with 3:14 left.

Thomas finally is performing like the player who was expected to be an NBA draft pick last season before opting to return for his junior campaign. He made six straight free throws down the stretch to finish with 25 points, reaching the 20 mark for the fourth straight contest.

Averaging 26.3 points in his last four games, Thomas helped Notre Dame beat Syracuse for just the second time in the last 12 meetings.

"This was very satisfying for me to finally get a win against these guys," Thomas said. "We're on a good roll right now. I'm controlling tempo better than I ever have and I'm getting my teammates involved."

Hakim Warrick scored 28 points and Gerry McNamara added 20 for the Orangemen (16-6, 6-5), who rallied from a 11-point first-half deficit and took a 53-52 lead on McNamara's driving layup with 11:09 to play.

Warrick and McNamara heated up in the second half after combining to shoot 3-of-17 from the field in the opening 20 minutes.

"We just didn't play well offensively coming off our best offensive game of the year," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said, referring to Saturday's 91-74 win at Miami. "When Jerry and Hakim go 3-for-17, you know you are going to be in a hole."

Despite falling behind, the Fighting Irish kept their composure and slowed the Orangemen by using most of the shot clock on every possession. They also hurt Syracuse from outside, hitting 11-of-23 3-pointers.

"Chris and Chris, I've been waiting for those guys to take over, and they did," Brey said.

Torrian Jones' layup put Notre Dame ahead for good, 54-53, before Thomas and Tom Timmermans drilled consecutive 3-pointers.

"We played with a lot of poise," Thomas said.


© 2005 STATS, Inc
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