Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Furious Comeback Stalls in Overtime, Hoyas Fall to Rival Orange

SYRACUSE, N.Y., Feb. 14 ? If effort, stick-to-itiveness and heart counted in the Big East standings, Georgetown would have gone a long way Saturday toward moving up the ranks.

Because really, just about all 31,841 fans in attendance at the Carrier Dome had counted the Hoyas out when they trailed 66-50 with 8:11 left and 78-71 with 59 seconds remaining.

But Georgetown clawed back, tied the game with just over 10 seconds to go on a Chris Wright 25-footer and led by one with 2:13 left in overtime. Syracuse (19-7, 7-6 Big East), however, summoned a second wind in overtime, received eight points from senior forward Eric Devendorf and six from sophomore guard Jonny Flynn in the extra period, and went on to a wild 98-94 win.

Despite the laudable effort, the remarkable comeback, the unquestionable display in heart and toughness, this one will go into the books much like seven of the Hoyas’ other last eight games ? as a loss, their 10th of the season and eighth in Big East play.

“It feels the same,” Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said when asked to compare this loss to last week’s lackluster overtime defeat against Cincinnati. “It’s difficult. But we played today. We came out, we competed, we got down, we hung in there, we scrapped.”

Added Wright, who led the team with 25 points: “I don’t think anybody’s been through this. . We played hard but the end result wasn’t different. We play hard and win, that would be better.”

Georgetown now must win five of its last six to get back to .500 in league play, a mark which many feel the Hoyas must hit to make the NCAA tournament.

After Syracuse forward Rick Jackson made a layup with 59 seconds left to put Syracuse ahead by eight, junior forward Andy Rautins committed his fifth foul, sending senior guard Jessie Sapp to the line, where Sapp, coming off the bench for the second time this season, converted a pair.

After Devendorf made two free throws of his own, sophomore guard Austin Freeman found Wright open beyond the three-point line on the left side. After his shot swished through the net, Georgetown trailed by only four.

Freshman center Greg Monroe (16 points, 11 boards) stole the ensuing inbounds pass and dished to Freeman for a layup to narrow the margin to two. Flynn, who was 15-of-16 on the day from the charity stripe, proceeded to knock down a pair.

Down four with 24 seconds left, Wright penetrated and found Monroe on the low block for a layup and a shot at a three-point play. Though he missed the free throw, the rebound ended up in the hands of Rick Jackson, a 53 percent free throw shooter. Junior forward DaJuan Summers committed the foul, and Jackson made just 1-of-2.

Cue Wright’s heroics. The 6-foot-1 guard nailed his fifth three of the afternoon with 13 seconds on the clock. After a bad pass turnover by Jonny Flynn, Summers took the ball from three-point arc to three-point arc and came up just short on a last-second long-ball try.

In overtime, Devendorf pulled up for a bold trey after just three seconds had elapsed to regain the lead for Syracuse. Monroe scored on a dunk at the other end, but Flynn waltzed straight to the rim for a deuce on the Orange’s next possession.

Jessie Sapp answered with an eight-foot hook shot with 3:14 to go, and after a shot-clock violation by Syracuse, Freeman made a midrange jumper to give the Hoyas their first lead since 2:59 remained in the first half.

Lest he be outdone, Devendorf tossed in another dagger off a pass from Flynn to retake a two-point lead.

“We set something up for Eric ? that was almost a do or die shot,” Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim said. “Eric making that shot was a huge play.”

Wright missed a three on the other end, committed a foul going for a steal with three seconds left to shoot on Syracuse’s next possession, and from there on out, the Orange made five-of-six free throws to hold on for the victory.

“I thought with about 5 minutes to go, Georgetown just started to penetrate and just broke into our defense and I thought we broke down a little bit,” Boeheim said. “They made some tough threes, some really tough threes and they earned their way back into the game. . We made a bad play at the end of regulation but we were fortunate they didn’t get it down and get a shot.”

Of course, the Hoyas may not have needed the comeback had they come out of halftime with the same intensity they showed toward the end of the game. Syracuse come out of the break with crisp offensive execution and the Hoyas came out with too many turnovers. Georgetown committed four of its six second-half turnovers within the first 3:11, allowing the Orange to open up a 10-point lead.

Reeling after that stretch, the Hoyas struggled for much of the second half to get a defensive stop. Georgetown had just four in the first 13 minutes of the period, one of which came on Syracuse’s very fist possession with 19:47 left and two others which came on offensive fouls.

Still, the Hoyas refused to go quietly.

“I strongly believed that we were going to win the game,” Wright said. “I think everybody believed we were going to win the game. It was tough, some balls didn’t bounce our way.”

Georgetown’s spirited fight may be a good omen for the stretch run, but with just seven games remaining, the Hoyas need more than omens.

“Now we just have to continue,” Thompson said. “I think this week off was good for us. We gotta continue down that some path and get some W’s.”

Said Wright: “Yeah we improved but improvement has to be with a win. We gotta win is the bottom line.”

After the two teams traded leads for much of the first half, Georgetown led 31-24 with 3:47 to go, despite torrid outside shooting from Rautins, who torched sophomore forward Nikita Mescheriakov for three threes in less than two minutes. But Flynn had five points and two assists in the last 3:33 of the half and Syracuse jumped ahead by one at the break.

Georgetown returns to action Wednesday evening at South Florida (8-15, 3-8). A loss to the Bulls would just about spell the end for the Hoyas. With home bouts against Marquette and Louisville slated for next Saturday and Monday, respectively, and a trip to Villanova still on tap, not even the fight the Hoyas showed today would be enough to run the table from there on out.

NOTES: Mescheriakov made his first career start in place of Sapp, finishing with zero points, one rebound, three assists and two turnovers in 24 minutes of action. He missed his four three-point attempts. … Thompson said after the game he was unsure if the change in the starting five would be permanent. … Patrick Ewing Jr. was seated courtside, behind the Georgetown bench. He said he skipped the NBDL dunk contest to attend the Hoyas’ game. Fellow D-leaguer Donte Green was also in the building.

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