SYRACUSE — Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw wanted a fast start from her No. 3-ranked Fighting Irish. McGraw got her wish and then some, but then she and her Irish had to endure a nerve-wracking ending to the second half. Notre Dame used a 3-pointer by Ashley Barlow with 34.2 seconds left to erase a 73-71 Syracuse lead, and then survived a frantic finish for a 74-73 victory against the Orange, Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome. "That was huge," McGraw said of Barlow’s game-winner. "Despite my screaming the entire half, ‘Stop shooting the 3,’ she kept her poise and she knew she was going to make it. That’s a great play by Ashley to get us the lead. Tremendous composure." Barlow hit four 3-pointers and ended up with 19 points. She also converted a four-point play with eight seconds left in the first half to give Notre Dame a 53-39 halftime lead. Freshman guard Skylar Diggins finished with 21 points to lead Notre Dame, tying her career high. Juanita Ward led Syracuse with 16 points. Notre Dame (19-1 overall, 6-1 Big East), doesn’t get much time to rest. The Irish play at Rutgers on Monday (7:30 p.m. EST, ESPN2). Syracuse is 16-5 overall and 3-5 Big East. "I was really proud of our composure at the end of the game," McGraw said. "Everything was going wrong. I don’t think we could have played worse. Defensively, we couldn’t guard the ball." The Irish also got outrebounded, 49-34, and committed 27 fouls, which sent the Orange to the free throw line 37 times. "We just really didn’t play our game," McGraw said, "yet despite all the foul trouble and the ice-cold shooting in the second half, we managed to hold on to win. I’m just so proud of my team right now, the composure they had at the end of the game." Notre Dame hit seven of its first nine shots — including three 3-pointers. But the Irish saw a 14-point halftime lead vanish quickly as Notre Dame missed its first nine shots of the second half. Following a Notre Dame turnover, Nicole Michael hit a jump hook to give Syracuse the lead at 60-58 with 10:23 left, capping a 21-5 run by the Orange. The Irish regrouped and hit Syracuse with a 10-3 run, highlighted by a 3-pointer by Brittany Mallory to put Notre Dame on top, 68-63, with 5:57 left in the game. ND held a 71-67 with 3:36 left when Syracuse surged ahead with six straight points, capped by Juanita Ward’s three-point play at the 1:00 mark. Barlow then stunned the Orange with her deep 3-pointer as the shot clock ran down to put the Irish back on top, 74-73. "When they made their run, we continued to hold our poise," Barlow said. "We didn’t let them get us rattled. We knew what we had to do to get calmed down." Syracuse’s Harris misfired on a 3 and Lindsay Schrader rebounded for the Irish with 18.1 seconds left and was decked. Schrader missed the front end of the one-and-one, and the Orange rebounded. Erica Morrow took a final shot for the Orange that bounced off the rim. Diggins torched Syracuse early. The 5-foot-9 guard connected for 16 points by the 9:28 mark of the first half. She hit six of her first eight shots, and swished four of her first five shots from behind the arc. Diggins only played 14 minutes in the half, sitting down after picking up her second foul. "I was just trying to get us off to a good start," Diggins said. "We’ve been struggling with that in the past, starting the game well." Diggins helped the Irish forge a 27-11 lead with 12:46 left in the first half, but Syracuse battled back. In addition to a 21-point effort, Diggins dished out a career-high six assists and stole the ball four times. Mallory scored 11 points for the Irish. Peters contributed five points, seven rebounds and racked up four steals. Melissa Lechlitner kicked out five assists. Syracuse, which entered the game leading the Big East in three-point field-goal percentage (36.4 percent), hit only 2-of-12 from 3-point range against the Irish (16.7 percent). Syracuse missed all seven of its 3-point attempts in the second half. "When you play these kind of games and you play against these top teams in the country, and you have this kind of opportunity, it’s tough when they get away," Syracuse Quentin Hillsman said. "But Notre Dame is a tough team. There’s a reason why they’re No. 3 in country."
- NOTRE DAME 74, SYRACUSE 73 At Syracuse, N.Y. NOTRE DAME (19-1): Melissa Lechlitner 1-7 0-0 2, Lindsay Schrader 2-2 1-3 5, Becca Bruszewski 3-4 1-2 7, Skylar Diggins 8-18 1-2 21, Ashley Barlow 6-16 3-3 19, Devereaux Peters 1-4 3-6 5, Natalie Novosel 0-2 0-0 0, Brittany Mallory 2-5 5-5 11, Erica Williamson 1-4 2-2 4. Totals 24-62 16-23 74. SYRACUSE (16-5): Vionca Murray 5-6 2-5 12, Juanita Ward 5-9 6-9 16, Nicole Michael 4-13 3-6 11, Tasha Harris 1-2 2-2 5, Erica Morrow 5-12 4-6 14, Chanieka Williams 0-0 0-0 0, Elashier Hall 1-5 3-4 6, Troya Berry 2-2 1-1 5, Tyler Ash 1-4 0-0 2, Kayla Alexander 0-2 2-4 2, Carmen Tyson-Thomas 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-56 23-37 73. Halftime — Notre Dame 53-39. 3-Point Goals — Notre Dame 10-29 (Diggins 4-9, Barlow 4-12, Mallory 2-5, Peters 0-1, Lechlitner 0-2), Syracuse 2-12 (Harris 1-2, Hall 1-2, Tyson-Thomas 0-1, Michael 0 -3, Morrow 0-4). Fouled Out — Bruszewski, Michael. Rebounds — Notre Dame 34 (Peters 7), Syracuse 49 (Michael 9). Assists — Notre Dame 19 (Diggins 6), Syracuse 13 (Harris 5). Total Fouls — Notre Dame 27, Syracuse 19. A — 3,436.