Ruthie Braunstein/The Hoya Georgetown lost its second straight game Monday night, 70-63, to Syracuse.

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Big East is often regarded as one of the more talented conferences in college basketball, but for Georgetown, it is proving decidedly more difficult to pull off a conference win.

Last night, No. 12 Syracuse handed No. 14 Georgetown a 70-63 loss, dropping the Hoyas to 4-3 in the Big East (17-3 overall). Against the Orangemen, the Hoyas bore little resemblance to the team that just two weeks ago held a top-10 ranking and sat atop the Big East standings.

The Hoyas have lost three consecutive conference games over the past 10 days, including Saturday’s 78-71 loss to Notre Dame. Yesterday’s contest at Syracuse was Georgetown’s third game in five days, and the Hoyas showed sings of fatigue against the Orangemen.

Playing before a deafening crowd of 21,054 at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, Georgetown never saw a lead materialize and instead struggled to stay close in a game where it was losing by as many as 17 points.

The Hoyas first-half performance was marked by sloppy ball handling, weak defense, wayward passes inside and poor shooting. By the end of the half, Georgetown had 15 turnovers and only 22 points.

Syracuse junior forward Preston Shumpert jump-started the Orange offense with a quick jumper a minute into the game. Seconds later, Georgetown freshman forward Mike Sweetney answered with a shot of his own, tying the game at 2-2. That was the closest the Hoyas ever got to the lead.

Led by Shumpert and his 18 first-half points, Syracuse dominated Georgetown in the first half, with the Hoyas shooting just 9 for 29. The Hoya offense continually tried to pass the ball inside, but the Orangemen’s 3-2 zone prevented the Georgetown big men from getting good position in the post.

The Orange defense limited the Hoya frontcourt, denying them easy shots and forcing them to kick the ball out to the perimeter where the Hoyas were tentative with their jumpers.

Syracuse senior guard Allen Griffin hit a layup with 32 seconds left in the first half, and sophomore guard Demetrius Hunter’s miss 20 seconds later gave Syracuse a 37-22 lead at the half.

“We shouldn’t have been down 15 in the first half,” junior guard Kevin Braswell said.

The Hoyas opened the second half with more focus, as Syracuse faltered slightly. After an opening three from sophomore guard DeShawn Williams, Hunter scored to narrow the lead to 40-26.

Senior guard Anthony Perry blocked a pass to Williams, then tipped it back to Sweetney, who threw it down to court to sophomore guard Trenton Hillier for the easy layup, cutting the Syracuse lead to 42-32 five minutes into the second half.

The Hoyas performed well in the second half with Braswell, Hunter and Sweetney all hitting big shots to keep the Hoyas close.

Braswell scored 15 points in the second half and 23 on the night, while Hunter and Sweetney totaled 14 and 12, respectively. Senior center Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje was a non-factor, going scoreless for the second consecutive game while struggling to establish an inside presence at either end of the court.

“[Braswell, Hunter and Sweetney] really helped us battle back and we made it a game,” Head Coach Craig Esherick said. “Kevin and Demetrius hit some tough shots. We’re lucky we got out of here with the margin that we did.”

Nonetheless, the Hoyas continued to find themselves struggling to keep pace with the Orangemen. While going up for a layup with 8:30 left in the game, Griffin pulled down Hunter on a fastbreak and a foul was called. Hunter and Griffin tussled and their teammates encircled them before Esherick stepped in to break the two apart.

Referee Tim Higgins ejected sophomore center Wesley Wilson for what the officials believed to be a “cheap shot on Griffin,” according to Esherick.

Hunter made one of two free throws, but Shumpert made both technical foul shots to widen the Orange lead back to six. On the next possession, Sweetney fouled senior forward Damone Brown whose free throws put Syracuse up 52-44.

Despite the loss of Wilson, the Hoyas managed to stay in the game a little while longer.

A Sweetney dunk with 7:20 left cut Syracuse’s lead to five, but Williams answered with a three-pointer and a layup that built the Orangemen lead back to double digits.

But the Hoyas proved they were not ready to go quietly. An aggressive offensive effort by Braswell, Hunter and senior forward Lee Scruggs brought the Hoyas within six points with two minutes left in the game. A Sweetney dunk brought Georgetown within 64-60 with 50 seconds remaining. Syracuse then called a timeout and regained momentum knowing time was in their favor. A dunk and two free throws by Brown gave the Orangemen a 68-60 edge, which Braswell cut to 68-63 when he stunned the Syracuse defense with an effortless three with 17 seconds left.

On the next possession, Scruggs fouled Brown to stop the clock. Brown’s two made free throws put Syracuse up 70-63, the final margin of the game.

Syracuse fans rushed the floor in celebration of the victory.

“This is not the end of the season,” Esherick said. “We have enough time and enough good players to fix it and finish the season strong.”

Related Links

 Men’s Basketball Page

 Men’s Basketball Schedule

 Men’s Basketball Roster

 Box Score vs. Notre Dame (1/27)

 Box Score vs. Syracuse (1/29)

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