- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 27, 2007

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The ‘Cuse put the kibosh on the streak.

Perhaps it’s only fitting Georgetown’s 11-game, school-record-tying march through the Big East ended at the dreaded Carrier Dome last night at the hands of the Hoyas’ archrival. In the latest edition of the storied conference rivalry, Syracuse routed No. 9 Georgetown 72-58 to spark a court-storming celebration from 26,287 orange-clad crazies.

The loss drops the Hoyas (22-6, 12-3 Big East) back into a tie with Pittsburgh atop the conference standings, meaning Georgetown must beat Connecticut on Saturday at Verizon Center to claim the league’s top seed for the conference tournament next month.

“We picked the wrong night to have maybe our worst day of the year,” coach John Thompson III said after his team’s first loss since Jan. 13 at Pittsburgh.

If Saturday’s victory over Pittsburgh was simply poor basketball between two teams anxious for a league title, last night’s loss was simply old school Big East hoops between one team desperate for a signature win on senior night and another drained by six weeks of defending its streak.

“We probably caught [Georgetown] at a pretty good time,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “They’ve been playing better than anybody in our conference, obviously, and maybe anyone in the country. … But we played really well tonight. This was by far the best game we played at home this year. I think a lot of the credit goes to these seniors. Five or six games ago, our fans were booing them right here in the Carrier Dome, and they had to decide they were going to do something about it.”

The previously bubble-bound Orange (21-8, 10-5) seemed to want last night’s game more than the Hoyas, playing with considerably more energy. That was evident almost from the opening tip; freshman forward DaJuan Summers missed a pair of open looks on the Hoyas’ first two possessions to set the tone for Georgetown’s worst shooting performance of the season (29.8 percent).

While Georgetown’s poor shooting can be credited to Boeheim’s trademark 2-3 zone, the Hoyas didn’t do much when given open looks, either, and looked more tired than frazzled or confused.

Georgetown, which entered the game second in the nation in field goal percentage (.522), finished 17-for-57 (.298) — well below its previous season low (.415 vs. Hartford in the season opener). The Hoyas also had 19 turnovers — including four during a 10-0 Syracuse run late in the first half.

It wasn’t just one player, either.

Summers was 1-for-10. Jessie Sapp was 2-for-12, missing all eight of his 3-point attempts. Jonathan Wallace, statistically one of the league’s best shooters, finished 1-for-7. Junior center Roy Hibbert (six points, two rebounds) struggled to catch the ball, much less shoot, rebound or defend.

Junior forward Jeff Green, who was named conference player of the week shortly before the game, had his worst shooting night of the season, finishing 3-for-13 in his anticipated matchup with Syracuse’s Demetris Nichols (22 points). Like the rest of his teammates, Green (nine points, 10 rebounds) routinely missed short even when there wasn’t a defender in sight.

“We got shots that guys normally make that didn’t go in tonight,” Thompson said. “Yeah, it was because of them. It was because of their defense. But for large stretches, we got the looks and shots that we wanted, and the ball didn’t go in. Then down on the other end, I don’t know what the exact number was, but during a key stretch it felt like they hit three or four 3-pointers in a row. You can’t let that happen on the road.”

That deciding stretch began moments after Georgetown cut the Orange lead to 47-46 on a resounding follow-up jam by Patrick Ewing Jr. (10 points, seven rebounds) with a little less than 11 minutes remaining. Syracuse responded with the only truly clean sequence of the game as Andy Rautins (13 points) and Nichols hit 3s on four straight possessions to spark a 14-0 run that put the Orange ahead 61-46 with just 5:24 remaining.


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