Jackets snap losing streak against the orange

Senior guard Kyle Sturdivant (No. 1) locks down Syracuse’s Sophomore Judah Mintz (No. 3) as he looks to make a critical defensive stop in Tech’s 65-60 win against the opposing team. // Photo courtesy of Knox Lingenfelter Student Publications

Tech entered the week with three consecutive losses and were looking to bounce back in their road matchup against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish entered the contest against the Jackets with a 3-10 record in ACC play, including a win against Tech earlier in the season. Notre Dame was  also coming off of a 74-66 win against Virginia Tech.

The game was going to be a defensive battle  as Notre Dame is last in offensive efficiency across the ACC, but second in defensive efficiency during conference play.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair with neither team able to get a hold on  the game. Tech held the largest lead of the first half with a 17-11 advantage with just under 10 minutes left in the first half. 

The Fighting Irish began to heat up from beyond the arc and were able to make multiple three-point shots to take the lead. After taking this lead, the Jackets went on a scoring slump and did not score again until the 6:08 mark in the first half, leading to a 20-22 Notre Dame lead. 

The Fighting Irish kept the momentum and headed into halftime with a 31-28 lead. Tech’s uneven first half has become a common trend: spurts of strong play on both sides followed by scoring slumps.  

Junior guard Miles Kelly led the offense out to a strong start out of the half as he scored or assisted on the Jackets’ first nine points. He quickly helped them turn a 31-28 deficit into a 37-32 lead. 

Freshman forward Ibrahima Sacko kept the scoring going for the Jackets and made his presence known down under the rim. The Jackets slowed down on offense, and Notre Dame was able to regain the lead with just over eight minutes to play in the game. 

Both teams would go on to trade leads the rest of the way. With less than two minutes left, Kelly committed a costly turnover that  the Fighting Irish were able to turn into points and make it a 56-53 game. With 38 seconds remaining, Notre Dame got the ball back with a one-point lead and missed their shot. Tech was unable to come up with the rebound, and a pair of free throws from the Fighting Irish closed out the game 58-55 in favor of Notre Dame.

After being swept in the season series against the Fighting Irish, the Jackets were looking to snap their losing streak against the Syracuse Orange. The Orange entered with a 7-7 record in conference play and a 16-9 overall record. 

As the game began, Tech got off to a slow start and fell into a quick 9-2 deficit. Senior guard Kyle Sturdivant gave the offense a spark  with his scoring and playmaking ability. He turned it into a 13-12 game. 

After Syracuse was able to get an early seven-point lead, no team was able to establish a big lead. Throughout the first half, freshman forward Baye Ndongo ensured his presence was felt in the paint on both a scoring and rebounding level. The Jackets went into halftime with a 34-30 lead. 

Tech would go on to take a ten point lead, 48-38, with just under 12 minutes to play. The Orange fought back to take the lead, 55-54, with over five minutes left in the game. Sturdivant made a big shot to regain the lead, 57-55. 

Entering the final minute of the game, the Jackets led by one point. Sturdivant found junior guard Kelly for the bucket to extend the lead to three points with 31  seconds left. Both sides traded free throws to close out the game, but Tech successfully ended their losing streak with a 65-60 win over Syracuse. The Orange have been a quality middle-of-the-pack team in the ACC, and the win should boost the confidence of the Jackets.