The Georgetown men’s basketball team nearly clawed their way back from a big halftime deficit against archrival Syracuse but fell 74-69. The Hoyas have now dropped five straight games.
Georgetown versus Syracuse is a historic rivalry. During the broadcast on ESPN, announcers showed clips from some of the greatest games between the two teams, including a slideshow from the classic Georgetown win in 1980. Syracuse was ranked second in the nation at that time, had not lost at home in 57 games and, interestingly enough, starred Louis Orr, the current Georgetown basketball assistant coach, at forward.
In this game, the teams exchanged baskets early on and stayed within 4 points of each other for the first seven and a half minutes. The Hoyas struggled early on to get good looks against the Orange’s 2-3 zone defense, but made just enough contested three-pointers to hang around.
With six minutes to play in the first half, Syracuse took over. It went on a 16-3 run to go up 43-30 at halftime.
Georgetown came out sloppy at the beginning of the second half and was unable to score until the 17:07 mark. It was a third straight disappointing restart, only this time the Hoyas were down big and not looking to hold on to a lead.
Georgetown could have faded at this point in the game, but it dug deep and fought its way back. First-year guard T.J. Berger sparked the comeback by swishing a three-pointer, grabbing a rebound on the other end and throwing the ball ahead to graduate transfer guard Donald Carey for the lay-in. Just like that, the Hoyas were within 11 points, 50-39. The Orange’s sophomore guard Joseph Girard III responded from beyond the arc, but two buckets from senior forward Jamorko Pickett and a three-pointer from senior guard Jahvon Blair cut the Syracuse lead down to 7 points. The Orange’s junior guard Buddy Boeheim put away a three-pointer of his own to go back up by double digits.
The Syracuse lead stayed around 10 points until Georgetown used a couple of defensive stops to put together a 10-2 run and come within 4 points at the 5:47 mark. First-year forward Jamari Sibley came up with a big defensive play, and the Hoyas had the ball with a chance to cut the lead to one possession. They were unable to get a good shot up, however, and let Boeheim extend the Orange lead with a three-pointer.
Georgetown found the grit to keep itself close and got two free throws from Pickett to cut the lead to 5 points, 68-63. The Hoyas came up with stop after stop, but missed good looks from three-point range that would have put them within 2 points.
Georgetown fans got a look into the future when first-year point guard Dante Harris pulled down a rebound, speeded out in transition and sent a pass to Sibley, who switched hands to finish under the basket. The Hoyas were as close as they had been since midway through the first half, and the momentum was squarely on their side. Harris stole the ball from Girard, and Georgetown, down only 68-65, had a chance to tie the game.
The Hoyas went down the court but gave the ball away, and the Orange capitalized with a dunk on the other end. Georgetown took over, tried a difficult alley-oop and lost the ball. Syracuse made it pay again, hitting a jumper at the end of the shot clock to go back up by 7 points. The Hoyas never got within 5 points again.
One of the keys to the game for Georgetown was controlling the paint, as Syracuse ran out a starting lineup without a true center. Sophomore center Qudus Wahab was able to slam home two early dunks, but the Hoyas were outrebounded 38-32 on the day and allowed the Orange to dominate on the offensive glass. The rebounding deficit proved insurmountable for Georgetown.
Pickett paced the Hoyas with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Blair and Carey added 16 and 10 points, respectively. Bile impressed off the bench with 9 points on four shots and four rebounds. First-years Harris, Sibley and Berger also looked strong, combining for some important minutes down the stretch.
Georgetown basketball Head Coach Patrick Ewing (CAS ’85) spoke highly of his young players after the game.
“I thought they played solid,” Ewing said. “Jamari did an outstanding job when he had his opportunity. He did some great things defensively and was able to get a layup on the break. T.J. hit a big three for us and then got one blocked, but I thought he was solid on the defensive end.”
The Hoyas are now 3-8 overall. It has become a pattern for them to show flashes of brilliance but falter in crucial moments late in the game. They will look to pull together a full 40 minutes of their best basketball in the weeks to come.