MEN'S BASKETBALL | Hoyas Fight but Fall to Orange
Syracuse 58, Georgetown 51
Published: Saturday, February 26, 2011
Updated: Thursday, March 3, 2011 20:03
Georgetown's effort on Saturday could not be questioned, but it wasn't enough as No. 17 Syracuse (24-6, 11-6 Big East) withstood a second-half rally from the shorthanded Hoyas (21-8, 10-7 Big East) in a 58-51 win.
The loss was the third in five games for No. 11 Georgetown. The Hoyas struggled to create shots for large portions of the game in the absence of injured senior Chris Wright. The guard, who was honored before the game along with his classmates Austin Freeman, Julian Vaughn and Ryan Dougherty, was replaced in the starting lineup by sophomore Hollis Thompson and could only watch from the sidelines as his teammates struggled to break down Syracuse's vaunted 2-3 zone.
"Chris Wright not playing [was] huge," Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim said after the game. "I hope he can come back because Georgetown is obviously one of the best teams in our league with him playing, and that's a huge loss."
The game started well for the Hoyas, who were buoyed by a raucous Verizon Center crowd that seemed to have a smaller — but still significant — contingent of Syracuse fans in the upper deck than in years past. Junior guard Jason Clark scored the first points off a pretty feed from freshman Nate Lubick, but that would be his only basket of the half as foul trouble limited him to only nine first-half minutes.
Despite miserable shooting — the Blue and Gray shot under 35 percent in the first half and 16.7 percent from long distance — Georgetown found itself within striking distance late in the period. Then, a late 7-0 run by the visitors over the last 3:41 pushed the Orange lead to ten.
"I [feel] that we got good shots," Georgetown Head Coach John Thompson III said. "We still got it into the overload and kicked it out to the guys that were open. … The ball just didn't go in."
"At points we were holding the ball a bit too long, looking for something," Freeman said. "We were just looking for each other and holding the ball."
The Orange were led by seven points apiece from Scoop Jardine and Rick Jackson but got a big boost from an unexpected source, sophomore James Southerland, who scored nine points in 11 first-half minutes after not playing or not scoring in seven of Syracuse's last eight games.
The visitors began the second half like they ended the first, stifling the Georgetown offense and making enough shots to expand the lead to 12 with 17:30 to go. The Hoyas responded with some defense of their own, though, holding their archrivals to just one point over the next four minutes and cutting the Orange lead to three thanks in large part to two long threes from Clark.
"They didn't get a lot of wide-open looks until Clark finally hit those two tough ones," Boeheim said. "They were not easy [shots], and that got them rolling."
Although Jardine, who finished with 17 points and seven assists along with just one turnover, hit a tough three to briefly stem the tide, the Hoyas kept plugging away and eventually tied the game on a layup by Lubick, who then gave the Blue and Gray their second — and last — lead of the game on their next possession, prompting a Syracuse timeout.
"I [thought] we had control of the game at that point," Clark said. "We were making good stops. … We thought we had control, but we knew it wasn't over yet."
But Jardine scored seven of Syracuse's next nine points as part of an 11-1 run over the next six minutes. Despite their shooting struggles, though, the Hoyas found themselves with a chance to tie the game with 28 seconds left until Clark's corner three was partially blocked by Kris Joseph.
Syracuse, tied with Cincinnati for the dubious distinction of the worst free throw shooting team in the Big East, went four-for-four from the charity stripe to seal an important win. The victory keeps the Orange in contention for a double-bye in the Big East tournament and leaves the Hoyas likely needing a win against Cincinnati next weekend to earn a first-round bye in the tourney.
"We know we have to win now," Freeman said after the game. "[Missing Wright] is a little bit weird, but we still [have] to play."