- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2005

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Georgetown Hoyas were just six inches from another stunner.

In a game that was far closer than even the final score would suggest, Syracuse held off Georgetown 78-73 in overtime last night at the Carrier Dome, edging the Hoyas thanks to a surplus of blue-chip bodies.

Despite a youthful, shallow roster featuring three starting freshmen, Georgetown (11-5, 3-2 Big East) wasn’t the least bit intimidated by the nation’s No. 7 team nor the 23,485 orange-clad zealots on hand. And with 30.6 seconds remaining, the Hoyas found themselves trailing by only 67-65 after Syracuse gunner Gerry McNamara missed a potential game-sealing shot.

Georgetown coach John Thompson III called a timeout, decided to go for a 3-pointer and the victory and inserted five shooters into the lineup, with rarely used freshman guard Tyler Crawford and sixth man Darrel Owens complementing starters Ashanti Cook, Brandon Bowman and Jonathan Wallace.

The Hoyas cleared out at the top of the key for Bowman, who dribbled the clock down to the 10-second mark, sidestepped a flying defensive effort from McNamara and buried a 19-footer with 2.5 seconds left that was good enough for overtime but was meant to be a 3-point dagger.

After a last-second heave from Syracuse fell short as the clock expired, the officials clustered around a replay monitor at Thompson’s insistence to make certain Bowman’s final jumper was just a two-pointer. Replays clearly showed Bowman’s foot on the arc, sparing Syracuse (18-1, 5-0) from what would have been a program-building upset for the upstart Hoyas.

“I thought it was a 3, but I guess my shoe’s too big,” said Bowman (19 points, six rebounds), who wears a size 17 shoe. “I wish I was a size 14. … I’m just so mad right now I’m having trouble talking.”

The Hoyas play host to Notre Dame at MCI Center at noon Sunday.

The outcome of the overtime period was predictable given the ravaged condition of the Georgetown roster. Freshman Jeff Green (12 points, five assists) missed all but one of the game’s final 10 minutes carrying four fouls and picked up his fifth with 4:44 remaining trying to guard Syracuse All-American Hakim Warrick (25 points, 11 rebounds).

Bowman and Cook played most of the final half toting four fouls. And despite a superb effort from freshman Roy Hibbert (12 points, 14 rebounds), the Hoyas simply didn’t have the depth or the energy to match the Orange in overtime.

Warrick and McNamara (17 points, seven assists) dominated the extra period. After a floater by sophomore guard Louie McCroskey staked the Orange to a 69-67 lead, Bowman missed a pair of free throws, and then the Syracuse inside-outside dynamic duo took control. McNamara drilled a 3-pointer to put the Orange up five with 3:34 left in overtime, and Warrick iced the game with a thunderous transition dunk off a rare turnover in the lane from Wallace. The pair combined to score 11 of Syracuse’s 13 overtime points as the Orange sprinted out to a 74-67 lead the weary Hoyas could not overcome.

“I’m kind of sorry a Coach Thompson’s back at Georgetown,” said 29th-year Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who waged many a memorable battle with Thompson’s legendary father over the first two decades of Big East play. “That was a great game. Georgetown did everything you need to do to win on the road in this league. Our kids just wouldn’t let the game slip away.”

Actually, if the game had been decided on raw guts and determination, the Hoyas would have trumped Syracuse for a third straight Big East road win and their first victory over a top-10 team in three seasons. Georgetown again beat an opponent in sweat points, claiming most of the loose balls. And despite prolonged absences from Green, the Hoyas outworked the Orange on boards, pulling down 18 offensive rebounds and besting Syracuse in second-chance points (22-14) and fast break points (10-2).

But in the end, the Hoyas simply didn’t have an answer for Warrick, who used the combination of his phenomenal skills and senior superstar status with the officials to dispatch Green and earn 16 trips to the foul line. And despite another blue-collar performance in which Georgetown again selected its shots well in Thompson’s offense, the Hoyas eventually fell prey to Syracuse’s raw talent — just as it did in its other league loss against Connecticut.

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