Georgetown was the wrong team for Syracuse or any other college basketball team to play yesterday. It was the last home game for Georgetown's seniors and as Patrick Ewing was to say, "We came in with style, and we wanted to go out the same way."
Syracuse, the 12th-ranked team in the country, was reduced to a mere prop in this production just after halftime, if not before, as Georgetown crushed the Orangemen, 90-63, before 19,035 at Capital Centre.
The victory rounded out the Hoyas' regular season with an overall record of 27-2, the school's best ever. Its 14-2 record in the Big East sends Georgetown into this week's league tournament as the No. 2 seed, with a first-round game on Thursday against seventh-seeded Connecticut.
On national television, Georgetown made up for an earlier loss to the Orangemen in Syracuse and built its winning streak to nine games.
Georgetown was led in scoring by junior David Wingate, who had 17 points, and sophomore Reggie Williams, with 16. But the afternoon belonged to the seniors from beginning to end.
The pregame ceremonies honoring Ewing, Bill Martin and Ralph Dalton started with a two-minute highlight film of their exploits that drew a standing ovation. And it didn't really end until Coach John Thompson had properly removed all three from the action, separately, to long standing ovations.
Ewing, who will complete his illustrious college career with more than 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds, left the floor with 2:49 to play. He sat on the bench until the cheering was too much, then stood quickly to wave goodbye.
"I've enjoyed playing here," Ewing said. "Billy and I talked before the game, and we wanted to put an extra effort into this since it was the final time in Capital Centre. Now, I guess it's just our time to go."
Ewing scored 15 points, got 12 rebounds and survived a finger in the right eye while blocking Rafael Addison's dunk. There was alarm as he lay on the floor, tended by a team trainer, but he left the game for only a few minutes.
Martin, who had 12 points and eight rebounds, called it "a pretty emotional day for us."
It had to be a pretty down day for Syracuse (20-7, 9-7), which has lost three of its last four heading into the Big East tournament.
The Orangemen shot just 37 percent from the field. Dwayne (Pearl) Washington scored a game-high 19 points, but many of them came after the outcome was no longer in doubt, and he committed seven turnovers, while achieving only two assists.
The high-scoring Addison got 13 points, but made only four of 15 from the field. And 6-foot-10 center Rony Seikaly provided a single point and two rebounds in 20 minutes before fouling out.
The entire Syracuse front line, in fact, was a nonfactor. Addison, Seikaly, Andre Hawkins and Wendell Alexis -- three of whom average 53 percent or better from the field -- combined to make two of 14 shots the first half.
It was a freshman, Perry McDonald, who came in and provided a couple of important offensive rebounds and baskets that had the Hoyas ahead, 17-14.
And, as Addison would say later, "You have to be so careful, because a three- or four-point lead for them can quickly turn into a 14- or 15-point lead."
So it did. Williams, who has been on an offensive tear lately, scored a basket over Seikaly and completed the three-point play with a free throw that put the margin at 20-14 with 7:22 left in the first half.
Addison made his first points on a pair of free throws, but Martin took a long inbounds pass from Ewing and hit a jumper over Seikaly for 22-16. And Wingate made a pair of free throws, after Addison missed a one-and-one set, to make it 24-16.
Before more than a second or two could tick off the clock, Greg Monroe's poor inbounds pass to Hawkins had become a turnover. Michael Jackson (five assists, one turnover) sank the jumper that made it 26-16.
Addison tried going inside, only to have his shot blocked by Ewing; this turned into a layup for Wingate. Then Ewing, flying through the air, stole the subsequent pass-in and wound up converting two free throws for a 30-16 lead.
Georgetown had scored 10 points in 58 seconds. After halftime, the lead seemed to increase exponentially; it didn't take long at all for the Hoyas to build it to 70-42.
"I'm disappointed the way we played the first half," Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said, "because in the first half we had opportunities, lots of them. It should have been a three- to five-point game (instead of 41-29 in favor of Georgetown).
"In the second half, we didn't have any (chances). If you play against Georgetown the way they played the second half, you've got no opportunities."
The Orangemen, who handled Georgetown's pressure defense well in the first meeting, did not this time, making 19 turnovers.
"Normally we don't have any trouble with that and today we had all kinds of trouble," Boeheim said. "Several times we just made some bad judgments in passing."
Thompson said he didn't feel his team's defense was as intense at the beginning of the game as it should have been, probably because of the pregame ceremonies. "I think everybody gets a little happy and a little sentimental about kids leaving, but we weren't as alert. We picked it up at the end. Other than that, what can you say?"
You can say the Hoyas are red-hot going into postseason play. After losing to St. John's and Syracuse at the end of January, the Hoyas came back to beat those two teams within five days by a combined total of 43 points.
No wonder Boeheim shook his head while looking at the stat sheet and said, "It's going to be real hard, awfully hard, for someone to beat them the way they're playing now."
It doesn't have to be the final home game for Dalton, the 6-11 center/forward. Dalton is finishing his fourth year at Georgetown but he didn't play as a freshman because of a knee injury. Dalton, asked after the game if he considers coming back for a fifth year, said, "I haven't even thought about it yet and I probably won't until this (season) is all over. I haven't talked to Coach Thompson or anyone else yet. It would be a last-minute decision if anything."