- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 15, 2009

SYRACUSE, N.Y. | Lady Luck jilted the Hoyas in overtime once again.

Reeling Georgetown mounted a heroic comeback Saturday in front of the largest crowd to witness a college basketball game this season, only to see No. 23 Syracuse shoot down the Hoyas’ latest slump-snapping bid.

Orange guard Eric Devendorf connected on a pair of 3-pointers in the extra frame to lead Syracuse to a 98-94 victory and extend Georgetown’s misery to seven losses in eight games, including two straight in overtime.

“This game will be in the Georgetown-Syracuse classic vault very, very quickly,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “Georgetown is a very good team. They were a top-10 team earlier this season, and now they’re 4-8 in the Big East. That happens in this league. You just don’t get a chance to take a breath.”

The Orange (19-7, 7-6 Big East) blew a 16-point second-half lead but still prevailed at Carrier Dome thanks to the backcourt tandem of Devendorf (23 points) and Jonny Flynn (25 points, 13 assists).

Amid a month of disappointments for the Hoyas (13-10, 4-8), their latest loss might qualify as the most painful.

“We played today,” said Georgetown coach John Thompson III, whose team travels to South Florida on Wednesday. “We came out today and competed. We got down, but we hung in there. We scrapped. We weren’t tentative. We didn’t win, but our guys played in a way that put us in a position to win. That’s not good enough, but we competed.”

Georgetown seemed destined for defeat when Devendorf made a deep 3-pointer to put the Orange up 66-50 with 8:14 remaining. The Hoyas were overmatched inside, where Syracuse’s meaty combination of Arinze Onuaku (15 points, 13 rebounds) and Rick Jackson battered Georgetown big man Greg Monroe (16 points, 11 rebounds).

They were overmatched on the wings, where Syracuse gunners Devendorf and Andy Rautins shot a combined 8-for-16 from 3-point range. And they were overmatched on top, where nobody on the Georgetown roster could stay in front of Flynn, the Big East’s premier dribble-drive dynamo.

Georgetown’s offense had been solid against the Syracuse zone, but the Hoyas could not get a stop at the other end. The Orange offense scored at will, finishing with the most points a Big East team has scored against the Hoyas since Thompson arrived on the Hilltop in 2004-05.

Said Boeheim: “The first 15 minutes of the second half was as good as we’ve played all year.”

The crowd of 31,841 fans was roaring its approval. And veiled capitulation seemed likely from a Georgetown team that has collected just one victory since an 88-74 win against the Orange on Jan. 14.

But the Hoyas didn’t quit. They didn’t start pouting or chucking quick 3-pointers or squabbling. They rallied. Behind an inspired performance from sophomore guard Chris Wright (career-high 25 points) and some suspect Syracuse free throw shooting, the Hoyas pulled within five points with 52 seconds left and then tied the score on Wright’s 26-footer with 12.7 seconds left.

The Hoyas even had a chance to win in regulation when junior forward DaJuan Summers stole a pass from Flynn with just over five seconds remaining, sprinted upcourt and came up just short on a jumper at the buzzer.

“I thought it was going in,” Summers said.

The building was suddenly silent. All of the momentum belonged to Georgetown. Surely overtime would as well.

Not so. A pair of 3-pointers from Devendorf bookended a slashing layup from Flynn to give Syracuse a working margin. Wright and Georgetown blinked first, the sophomore missing a 3-pointer from the wing.

It didn’t matter that the Hoyas had erased a 16-point deficit or that Wright had come up with a career day. He finished 10-for-15 with just two turnovers in 41 minutes before fouling out in overtime.

“That’s Syracuse in the Carrier Dome,” Wright said. “I mean, we played hard, but the end result was the same. We lost.”