Georgetown on Orange alert after setback against Syracuse
Whoever said good things come in threes should probably avoid the Georgetown men's basketball team right about now.
Looking for a rare third win in the same season over their archiest of rivals, the Hoyas fell behind following Syracuse's barrage of early 3-point field goals. Though a second half rally forced overtime, the Orange made three field goals in the extra session and won the game, by three points.
Georgetown's 58-55 loss Friday night in the semifinal round of the Big East Tournament ended the Hoyas hopes of a Big East record eighth tournament title. The setback came nearly a week after it appeared Georgetown had the last laugh in the storied series with Syracuse.
Entering this week's Big East Tournament, it didn't dawn on the Hoyas that anything other than a trip to Saturday's championship was a possibility.
Heading into overtime after rallying from way back, they thought the game was theirs.
"Absolutely, absolutely," said guard Markel Starks. "I felt the momentum was with us."
Seeing as Starks scored 11 of his 13 points during the second half and Georgetown forced overtime with a 19-8 run over the final 11:36, his optimism was understandable.
So is Georgetown coach John Thompson III's displeasure over the ending of the conference matchups against Syracuse. With the Orange heading to the ACC next season and the Hoyas sticking with the retooled Big East, the two teams will no longer be conference rivals.
"Fitting that it went to overtime," Thompson said. "I think it's --yeah, it is. It's a shame that they are heading down to Tobacco Road for a few dollars more. This is a rivalry that meant a lot to our program and to their program and this conference."
Otto Porter scored 12 points including two game-tying free throws with 7.3 seconds left in regulation.
"We fought all the way back, had the momentum going our way," the Big East Player of the Year said. "Then things started happening."
Those things included Syracuse's Brandon Triche's starting a quick 4-0 spurt with a layup, Starks fouling out with over three minutes remaining, the Hoyas missing five of six field goal attempts.
"Triche got that easy layup for them to go up in overtime and then we had to continue to fight back from that," Porter said. "That was it."
Though not at his superhero best, Porter received high praise.
“He’s the best all-around player I’ve seen in this league," Syracuse's long-time coach Jim Boeheim said.
Mikael Hopkins led Georgetown with a career-high 15 points. Georgetown now awaits its NCAA Tournament seeding and path when the bracket is revealed on Sunday night.
The Hoyas Big East Tournament road led them to another meeting against the Orange. Georgetown won the two regular season games by a combined 33 points, including last Saturday's 61-39 romp. The Hoyas defeated the Orange three times in one season twice during the Big East's 34-year history, most recently in 1986-87.
Georgetown led 17-14 with 8:32 remaining in the first half. Over the next seven minutes, the Hoyas clanked shots, both open and contested. In that span they missed 10 straight shots while committing three turnovers, all by Jabril Trawick.
Forced to fight back after halftime were the Hoyas because unlike the previous encounter, Syracuse made its shots from beyond the arc. Specifically, a 3-ball cluster during a 13-0 first half spurt which turned gave Syracuse a 27-17 lead and ignited the largely Orange-clad crowd into full-throated support.
James Southerland, one of three Syracuse players with 13 points, started the run with one of his four 3-pointers. Considering his proclivity for the long ball - the senior matched former Syracuse star Gerry McNamara's tournament record with 16 in one event - his shot making was no surprise.
Little-used guard Trevor Cooney turning folk hero for Syracuse with two 3-pointers and eight of his 10 points in that stretch was something else.
Georgetown trailed 29-20 at halftime, its largest mid-game hole since down 37-22 against Pittsburgh on Jan 8. The Hoyas eventually lost that game to the Panthers by 28 points, their largest loss ever in Big East play.
Even though they forced overtime, falling behind early ultimately crimped the chance for a final conference tournament title with the current Big East contingent of teams.
"I think in the end it was," said forward Nate Lubick, who grabbed 11 rebounds. "Those guys gained confidence in terms of making shots, making plays."
Hopkins scored Georgetown's only field goal in overtime and Porter's free throws made it 57-55 with 40 seconds remaining. The Orange kept the result in doubt by missing three of four free throws in the final 18 seconds, but in between Porter committed a turnover. Trawick's halfcourt shot at the buzzer had the proper angle, but missed long.
The Hoyas also lost a shot at claiming a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Landing a first week spot in the Philadelphia pod and receiving fortuitous matchups going forward are ultimately bigger deals than the seed.
Thompson might agree with such forward-thinking talk, but he had little interest in engaging that kind of big picture look postgame. Asked if playing one less day in New York could help them in the days ahead, the miffed coach said, "That's the wrong time to ask that question...we came here with every intention of playing tomorrow night."