The celebration of Syracuse's exhilarating Monday night victory over Georgetown lasted until the wee hours around town Tuesday morning. Television and radio sports reports interrupted regularly scheduled programming to relay the news: "The Orangemen have broken the Georgetown hex."
It was the first time Syracuse could celebrate after a Georgetown game in 14 years in a rivalry that was renewed in 1979. The Hoyas had won five straight games in the last three years, including the victory that broke the Orangemen's 57-game, Manley Field House winning streak. Three weeks ago, the Hoyas won a five-point decision in McDonough Area.
"It means so much more to kill them bums," said senior guard Marty Headd, who scored the controversial winning basket with five seconds remaining. "My sophomore year I had a horrible game (one-for-11 shooting). And my junior year I missed free throws to lose the game and close down the field house (Manley) I grew up in. So you think I wasn't psyched to kill them bums?"
No matter where these two teams played -- Georgetown won those five straight on five different courts -- the Orangemen lost, leaving their fans in this upstate New York community with a dislike for the Hoyas.
When Georgetown whittled away a Syracuse 17-point lead in the second half, and tied the game, 64-64, with 19 seconds left on Eric Smith's layup, the horrible hex was making a strong comeback.
But Headd had the antidote. He took a pass from back court mate Eddie Moss, dribbled down the lane, and bumped into three Hoyas while throwing in what turned out to be the winning basket with five seconds remaining.
A whistle sounded and one official began to signal a charging call against Headd, but he stopped abruptly. All three refs stook looking at each other from their stations on the floor.
The three officials huddled at the scorers' table for two minutes, as both coaches, Georgetown's John Thompson and Syracuse's Jim Boeheim, stood befuddled. They never did receive any explanation for the confusion.
They finally decided that there was no foul and Georgetown inbounded the ball under the basket. Sleepy Floyd, who had a terrible shooting night, missed a desperation jumper from the right corner as time expired.
So much for the hex, and for Georgetown's 15 straight February victories over the last three seasons. While the Syracuse seniors celebrated their only victory over Georgetown in four years, Thompson fumed.
Informed of his counterpart's disgust, Boeheim said Thompson had "nerve" to complain, since the Hoyas had gotten their share of breaks in the previous five games. "Did Thompson talk about the time they shot 37 free throws and we shot half that?"
St. John's and Boston College now lead the Big East with 6-3 records. Connecticut is 5-3 and Georgetown, Villanova and Syracuse are 5-4. Each league team plays 14 games.