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Syracuse Wins NCAA Basketball Championship - 2003-04-08

Syracuse Wins NCAA Basketball Championship David Byrd New Orleans

The Syracuse University Orangemen have won their first national collegiate men's basketball championship, defeating Kansas, 81 - 78 in New Orleans.

Syracuse dominated Kansas in the first half, thanks in large part to 18 points from freshman guard Gerry McNamara. The Scranton, Pennsylvania, native sank six three-pointers to help Syracuse take a 53-42 lead into halftime. However, Kansas went on a scoring run early in the second half and brought the game to within two points. But Syracuse was able to hold off the Jayhawks and win the national crown for the first time ever.

Freshman Carmelo Anthony led Syracuse with 20 points.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim says the win is not a validation of his coaching skills, but is a testament to the talent of his players. "I wanted to win this thing. I am tremendously happy. I am really happy more for the players and for our fans," he says. "And, I have had really an unbelievable time coaching basketball the people I have met the experiences I have had in this game, to me that is what it is all about."

For Kansas coach Roy Williams, the loss marks the second time in his head coaching career that he has made it to the final game, only to go home disappointed. But Williams says he is proud of the way his team performed. "This is one of those times that I feel so inadequate as a coach and so inadequate as a person because there is nothing that I can say to change the way that my kids feel," he said. "Nothing I can say that can change the way that I feel. But I am extremely proud of my basketball team."

There had been speculation that Williams would take the head coaching job at his former school, North Carolina. However, Williams would not even discuss his future Monday night he was concerned only with the feelings of his players.

The Syracuse victory marks the second consecutive year a coach has led his alma mater to the national championship. Gary Williams of Maryland did the same thing last season.