Syracuse's streaking McNamara scores 43

Sophomore's big day in 80-75 victory over BYU lifts him to `another world'

Ncaa Regional

Phoenix

March 19, 2004|By Chris Dufresne | Chris Dufresne,LOS ANGELES TIMES

DENVER - You would have thought Syracuse guard Gerry McNamara might have cooled off between NCAA games.

He didn't.

Picking up where he left off in April's national title game, when he scored 18 points against Kansas, all on three-point shots, McNamara scored 43 points yesterday to lead No. 5 seed Syracuse to an 80-75 first-round victory against No. 12 Brigham Young at the Pepsi Center.

It was the most points scored by a Syracuse player since Dave Bing had 43 against Buffalo in 1965.

"Gerry was just in another world today," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said.

Boeheim knows a little bit about Bing; the two were former college roommates and teammates. Boeheim said he is reluctant to compare anyone with the great Bing, but called McNamara's effort "as good a performance as I've ever seen in a college basketball game."

McNamara, a sophomore, made nine of his 13 three-point attempts and scored 28 of his 43 points in the first half. He also made two crucial free throws with 13 seconds left to give Syracuse a four-point lead. McNamara rescued his team after standout forward Hakim Warrick picked up his third foul with seven minutes left and BYU raced to an 11-point lead.

With Warrick on the bench, McNamara scored 13 points and helped to pull his team even at 42 at the half. "He knew we needed it," Boeheim said of McNamara.

BYU out-rebounded Syracuse 36-22, and forced the Orangemen out of their vaunted 2-3 zone. Had McNamara called in sick, BYU coach Steve Cleveland thought his team would have won yesterday's game by 15 or 20 points.

"He had a special night," Cleveland said.

No one could stop McNamara. He scored many of his points against Cougars guard Mike Hall, the Mountain West Conference's defensive Player of the Year.

"When you have it, you have to roll with it," McNamara said of his shooting touch.

As good as McNamara was, BYU had a chance to pull off the upset. The Cougars trailed 77-75 with 32 seconds left and had possession. Cleveland called timeout to set up a play for shooting ace Mark Bigelow.

The play worked out perfectly, with Bigelow curling off a pick for an open three-point look with 18 seconds left.

But Bigelow's shot missed.

"I think I was a little surprised to be that open," Bigelow said. "I just missed it."

McNamara ended up with the ball and was fouled, and then made the two free throws to clinch victory. It seemed only fitting, really. With the win, Syracuse (22-7) will face Maryland tomorrow in a second-round game featuring the past two NCAA champions.

BYU's season ended at 21-9, with the Cougars wondering what might have been had McNamara not had the game of his life. Rafeal Araujo led the Cougars with 24 points, and Bigelow and Hall added 17 points each.

McNamara? He said it was definitely the best game he'd ever had in college.

"It felt good and I kept shooting," McNamara. But he said he was no Pete Maravich, the former Louisiana State scoring star. "I had the game of my life, and `Pistol Pete' Maravich averaged more than that," he said.

The Los Angeles Times is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.

BYU - Bigelow 5-14 4-4 17, Meads 0-1 0-0 0, Araujo 9-15 6-7 24, M.Hall 6-9 2-5 17, Lemes 4-9 0-0 12, Woodberry 0-2 0-0 0, Rose 0-2 0-0 0, Shoff 2-3 1-3 5, Jensen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-55 13-19 75.

SYRACUSE - Warrick 6-13 8-9 20, Nichols 4-6 0-0 10, Forth 1-3 0-0 2, McNamara 11-17 12-16 43, Pace 1-4 0-1 2, T.Roberts 1-1 1-2 3, McNeil 0-0 0-0 0, McCroskey 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-45 21-28 80. Half: Tied, 42-42. 3-Point Goals-BYU 10-26 (Lemes 4-7, M.Hall 3-3, Bigelow 3-11, Araujo 0-1, Rose 0-2, Woodberry 0-2), Syracuse 11-16 (McNamara 9-13, Nichols 2-3). Fouled out-None. Rebounds-BYU 34 (Araujo 12), Syracuse 20 (Forth 6). Assists-BYU 19 (Lemes 9), Syracuse 12 (Forth, Nichols, Warrick 3). Total fouls-BYU 23, Syracuse 15. A-19,286.

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