“We put ourselves in position to make it interesting,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “We came into this game, and especially if you watch what they did to Duke, beating them up in the paint.”
You really try to take stuff away in the paint. I thought overall with the guys that destroy you in the paint we did a good job. But we couldn’t do a good job on Cooney. Seven of the nine I think we challenged. He was just in one of those zones, and you’ve got to take your hat off.”
Cooney, 9 of 12 from long range, matched the record set by Gerry McNamara in the 2004 NCAA tournament and equaled by Andy Rautins in 2008 and James Southerland in 2012.
Jerami Grant and Fair, who combined for 54 points against Duke, combined for just 15, while Tyler Ennis found little room in the lane to penetrate and finished with six points and eight assists.
Garrick Sherman led Notre Dame with 16 points, Steve Vasturia had 13, and former St. John’s Prep star Pat Connaughton finished with 11.
Notre Dame closed within 38-32 on a 3-pointer from Atkins with 14:19 to play, but Syracuse responded with seven straight points. Grant slammed home a dunk after his block on Sherman and Fair followed with a slam off a Grant miss. Cooney completed the run with his seventh 3-pointer, which tied his personal best.
The Irish have four long-range threats in Atkins, Connaughton, Vasturia, and Demetrius Jackson, who had combined for 127 3-pointers on the season entering the game, and Notre Dame’s long-range attack came alive in the second half after going 1 of 6 in the first 20 minutes.
Two 3-pointers by Atkins, Vasturia’s three-point play and a slam dunk by Tom Knight moved the Irish back within 43-40 with 8:41 to go.
Grant responded with a spinning drive through the lane and Cooney hit another 3. Grant then fed Cooney for a reverse layup and three-point play and Cooney hit his ninth 3 for a 54-44 lead with 4:14 to play.