- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Fortunately for No. 9 Georgetown, basketball isn’t scored according to aesthetics.

The last team standing in a classic Big East basketbrawl, the Hoyas outlasted Syracuse 64-62 last night in overtime, clipping the Orange at Verizon Center behind some stretch-run heroics from junior guard Jessie Sapp and strong defense from Patrick Ewing Jr. and Jeremiah Rivers.

“I think the key was during the latter part of regulation and overtime, Jeremiah’s and Patrick’s defense was unbelievable,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “Spark would be an understatement; what they did was terrific.”

The victory keeps the Hoyas (15-2, 5-1 Big East) atop the league standings heading into Saturday’s road test at West Virginia, which is 9-1 at home.

For the second consecutive week, the Hoyas followed an impressive Saturday performance with a Big Monday dud, playing down to the level of their youthful competition.

The Orange (13-7, 3-4) entered last night’s game overmatched by a Georgetown team that now has won 16 consecutive home games. Because of season-ending injuries (Eric Devendorf and Andy Rautins) and defections (Josh Wright), Syracuse is down to eight scholarship players, forcing Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim to put five first-year starters (including three freshman and a sophomore) on the floor against the league’s most seasoned team.

Yet for more than 35 minutes last night, Syracuse outplayed the Hoyas, who took atypically quick shots, looked baffled by Syracuse’s signature 2-3 zone and were beaten to every loose ball. Behind a superb performance from dazzling freshman Jonny Flynn (24 points) and a dominant performance on the boards (43-33), the Orange erased a seven-point halftime deficit and surged to a 58-51 lead over the Hoyas on a 3-pointer from freshman forward Donte‘ Green (15 points, nine rebounds) with just 4:34 remaining.

But Sapp (11 points, seven rebounds, five assists) rose to the moment, scoring seven of Georgetown’s final nine points and almost single-handedly forcing overtime. After Green hit a circus shot in the lane to give the Orange a 60-55 lead with 2:02 remaining in regulation, Sapp streaked down the floor and calmly stroked home a 3-pointer while the Orange were still busy celebrating.

After a Flynn turnover seconds later, Sapp converted an acrobatic bankshot to tie the game with 1:14 remaining.

Jessie Sapp made some big plays as he has around here for the last two years or so,” Thompson said. “He has the intestinal fortitude to make plays in the clutch.”

Ewing and Rivers played their part, too, defending Green and Flynn, respectively. With Ewing and Rivers locked down on the Syracuse freshmen, the Orange made just one field goal over the game’s final 9:33.

After dominating much of the game, Flynn missed his last five shots, including contested potential game-winners at both the end of regulation and overtime.

That last shot came after a pair of free throws from Sapp, a foul-line jumper from Georgetown center Roy Hibbert (15 points, nine rebounds) and a pair of free throws from Green left the Hoyas leading by two points. After DaJuan Summers missed a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left, Flynn came off a screen at the top of the key with Rivers playing close, took a jump-step back to 26 feet and nearly burned the Hoyas at the buzzer.

His shot rattled halfway down before it bounced out, preserving the Georgetown victory.

Hoyas report

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