InsideNDSports - Nate Laszewski shakes off stomach virus to help Irish shake off Syracuse
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Nate Laszewski shakes off stomach virus to help Irish shake off Syracuse

Irish senior forward Nate Laszewski (14) fired in five 3-pointers to help Notre Dame beat Syracuse, 79-69, Wednesday night at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Ind.
Irish senior forward Nate Laszewski (14) fired in five 3-pointers to help Notre Dame beat Syracuse, 79-69, Wednesday night at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Ind. (Matt Cashire, USA TODAY Sports Network)

A persistent stomach virus that had Nate Laszewski on IVs for stretches between Saturday’s loss at Wake Forest and Wednesday night’s ACC men’s basketball matchup with Syracuse couldn’t shake the 6-foot-10 senior.

Nor could a streaking Syracuse team and its renowned 2-3 zone defense.

Laszewski doubled his scoring average, with 17 points, in 28 minutes off the bench and Notre Dame closed strong on defense and at the free throw line to finish off Syracuse, 79-69, at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Ind.

The Irish (20-8, 13-4 ACC) are a win away from clinching a double-bye in the upcoming ACC Tournament — March 8-12 in Brooklyn, N.Y. — with Georgia Tech (11-16, 4-12), Florida State (14-13, 7-10) and Pittsburgh (11-18, 6-12) left on the regular-season schedule.

Duke stayed a game ahead of the Irish, in first place, with a 65-61 road win Wednesday night at Virginia.

Laszewski was 6-of-12 from the field, 5-of-10 from the arc, and part of a balanced effort Wednesday night that cooled off a Syracuse team that came in having won six of seven.

“All he did before this game since the Wake game was the shootaround for five minutes today,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “He actually ate a little something in the pregame meal. … We had the IVs in him. He’s a really a tough dude, so I felt better.

“I didn’t know we’d get 17 points out of him, but I knew we needed him to get him to get his feet set and get some shots over the zone, which he really gave us.”

Paul Atkinson Jr. gave the Irish with 20 points, and his career-high 17 rebounds helped lead to a 41-28 Irish command on the boards.

His 16th and 17th rebounds of the game led to four key free throws from Atkinson in the game’s final 63 seconds after Syracuse had crept within 72-69.

“Paul Atkinson was fabulous,” Brey said. “He was able to get inside that zone and make some plays.”

Cormac Ryan added 16 points and five rebounds. Freshman Blake Wesley drew praise from Brey for his poise against the zone. He finished with 13 points. And Prentiss Hubb was outstanding in running the offense, with 10 assists to go along with eight rebounds and six points.

That included a 3-pointer out of a timeout that halted a late Syracuse run after the Orange had closed to within two points.

“The lowest, worst-percentage shot maybe in the history of Notre Dame basketball,” Brey offered, “but it’s in the air and I’m kind of like, ‘This is probably going in.’ ‘Cause this guy has such good karma around him and believes. That’s who he is.”

Syracuse and Notre Dame spent the first half and the early part of the second trading punches. The Orange took the lead 47-45 with a 9-0 run early in the second half. Notre Dame answered with a 15-1 spurt for its largest lead, 60-48.

Ryan had seven points and Laszewski five during that surge.

Throughout the game, the Irish did a good job of holding down everyone who wasn’t related to Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, but his sons kept the Orange in the game, combining for 47 points on 18-of-35 shooting.

Jimmy Boeheim, a 6-8 grad transfer from Cornell, scored a season-high 27, while Buddy Boeheim — a 6-6 senior guard — had 20 points.

“God darn are they good players,” Brey said of the Boeheim brothers. “(But) this group believes they’re going to figure out a way to win. We couldn’t get away from them, but we made enough plays to win it.”

The Irish host Georgia Tech Saturday at 5 p.m. EST (ACC Network).

BOX SCORE

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