CHRIS BIEN/THE HOYA Otto Porter Jr. and Mikael Hopkins look on in disbelief after the top-seeded Hoyas' early exit.
CHRIS BIEN/THE HOYA
Otto Porter Jr. and Mikael Hopkins look on in disbelief after the top-seeded Hoyas’ early exit.

NEW YORK — Syracuse’s final Big East tournament ended in embarrassment at the hands of Louisville, but the Orange first ensured that its longtime rival wouldn’t get a last laugh either.

The No. 19 Orange (26-9) escaped the tournament semifinal, held at Madison Square Garden, with a 58-55 overtime win over No. 5 Georgetown (25-6) Friday night, knocking their archrivals out of contention for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

Sophomore center Mikael Hopkins led the Hoyas with 15 points in the loss, while junior guard Markel Starks added 13 before fouling out in overtime. Seniors James Southerland and Brandon Triche and junior Baye MoussaKeita all scored 13 for Syracuse.

Georgetown shot 11-of-20 from the free throw line in the loss.

After Triche missed the second free throw of a one-and-one late in the overtime, the Hoyas had a chance to tie the game with 15 seconds left. Thompson III drew up a play to free up Porter Jr. for three with a baseline screen, but the Orange brought in a physical double-team and the Georgetown star turned it over.

“They played it well,” Head Coach John Thompson III said.

A slow, steady Georgetown comeback in the second half culminated with the Hoyas down a basket with the ball and 13 seconds left. Syracuse junior C.J. Fair was whistled for a blocking foul after lightly bumping Porter Jr. on a drive attempt, and the Georgetown star sank both free throws to send the game to an extra period.

“It’s fitting that it went into overtime. It’s a shame that they’re heading down to Tobacco Road for a few dollars more,” Thompson III said, referring to Syracuse’s impending move to the ACC.

For much of the game, though, it looked as though the Orange would dispatch the Hoyas as easily as they themselves were dispatched in the teams’ two meetings to date. Southerland continued his long-range assault on the Madison Square Garden nets throughout the first half, tying Orange alum Gerry McNamara’s tournament record of 16 threes.

“I want to apologize to G-Mac — sorry, man, I didn’t mean to do that,” Southerland joked after the game. “I just need to go in there and focus on what we need to do.”

Georgetown freshman guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera was as cold as Southerland was hot, and with the Orange locking down Porter Jr. in the lane, the Hoyas’ offense slowed to a standstill. Syracuse entered the locker room with a nine-point lead, to the delight of the raucous, mostly orange Garden crowd.

Sophomore guard and designated stopper Jabril Trawick took on the Southerland assignment early in the second half, shutting down the red-hot forward and allowing the Hoyas some room to work on the offensive end.

With Starks beginning to heat up from three-point land and Porter Jr. and Hopkins working the high-low game to perfection, the Hoyas gradually chipped away at the Orange lead throughout the half. Syracuse sophomore point guard Michael Carter-Williams coughed up the ball six times — including five in the second half and overtime — allowing the Blue and Gray back in the game.

But in a matchup in which the referees rarely swallowed their whistles, Georgetown came up short at crucial junctures. Porter Jr. and Hopkins shot 4-of-7 and 3-of-6 from the line, respectively, including several devastating misses. With Starks in foul trouble and the Syracuse zone at its best, such mistakes hurt.

“We just didn’t execute when we needed to,” Starks said. “I’m not going to take away from Syracuse’s victory, but it hurts.”

The Orange went on to lose 78-61 to Louisville in the Big East tournament finals, cementing the Cardinals’ place as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament — they were given the No. 1 overall seed on Selection Sunday — and relegating Syracuse to a No. 4 seeding.

The Hoyas, despite the loss, will enter the tournament as a No. 2 seed, and will play No. 15 seed Florida Gulf Coast (24-10) in the second round.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*