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NCAA MEN'S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT / AT DENVER

McNamara's 43 Points Bail Out Syracuse

March 19, 2004|Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writer

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

He didn't.

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

It was the most points scored by a Syracuse guard 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 college roommates and teammates.

Boeheim said he was reluctant to compare anyone to the great Bing, but called McNamara's effort "as good a performance as I've ever seen in a college basketball."

McNamara, a sophomore, made nine of his 13 three-point attempts and scored 28 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 a Syracuse team that seemed headed for certain defeat after star 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 pull his team even at 42-42 at halftime.

"He knew we needed it," Boeheim said of McNamara. "We knew we were going down in a big bang today. Gerry knew it was him or we were going home tomorrow."

BYU outrebounded 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 Thursday's game by 15 or 20 points.

"He had a special night," Cleveland said.

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 the ball. Cleveland called timeout to set up a play for shooting ace Mark Bigelow.

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

But Bigelow missed.

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

With the win, Syracuse (22-7) will play Maryland on Saturday in a second-round game featuring the last two NCAA champions.

BYU's season ends at 21-9. Rafeal Arajuo led the Cougars with 24 points, and Bigelow and Hall had 17 points each.

Maryland 86, Texas El Paso 83 -- An upset victory was there for the taking but, in the end, the Miners couldn't take it.

"I couldn't believe we let it slip away," Miner guard Chris Craig said. "We were right there."

No. 4-seeded Maryland let an 11-point, second-half lead slip away but held off No. 13-seeded UTEP in a first-round game.

After Chris McCray's two free throws with 13 seconds left gave Maryland a three-point lead, UTEP (24-8) raced down court with a chance to send the game to overtime.

Craig's first three-point attempt was partially deflected by Maryland forward Jamar Smith.

The ball ended up back in Craig's hands in the final seconds, but his second three-point attempt fell short.

The Terrapins played like a tired team down the stretch, having had the shortest turnaround of any NCAA team after a grueling, three-game march to win the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title Sunday.

"They did a great job of picking us apart," Maryland Coach Gary Williams said.

The Terrapins have tested Williams' patience all season. Thursday, his team frittered away what appeared to be a comfortable, double-digit lead.

"This is pretty typical of how we play," Williams said. "We haven't been able to put teams away."

UTEP made an impressive charge in the final 10 minutes, actually taking the lead, 76-75, with 2:45 left on Omar Thomas' two free throws.

The score was tied at 81-81 before Smith's free throw with 1:31 left gave Maryland the lead for good.

McCray, whose last-second free throws gave Maryland a three-point cushion, led all scorers with 19 points.

John Tofi led UTEP with 16 points.

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Raining Threes

Most three-point field goals in an NCAA tournament game:

*--* Player 3-pt. M-A Pts 11 JEFF FRYER, 1990, Loyola Marymount d. Michigan, 11-15 41 149-115, second round 10 FREDDIE BANKS, 1987, UNLV l. to Indiana, 97-93, 10-19 38 national semifinal 9 GERRY MCNAMARA, 2004, Syracuse d. Brigham Young, 9-13 43 80-75, first round 9 RICKY PAULDING, 2003, Missouri l. to Marquette, 9-15 36 101-92 (OT), second round 9 JOHNNY HEMSLEY, 1999, Miami d. Lafayette, 75-54, 9-12 31 first round 9 JOHNNY MILLER, 1995, Temple l. to Cincinnati, 9-17 30 77-71, first round 9 GARDE THOMPSON, 1987, Michigan d. Navy, 97-82, 9-12 33 first round

*--*

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