NEW YORK, March 7-The moments that used to belong to Georgetown simply don't anymore. After taking this sizzling Big East tournament semifinal into overtime, the defending champions committed two turnovers in the final 31 seconds tonight and were eliminated by eighth-ranked Syracuse, 75-73, in the madness of Madison Square Garden.
The second-seeded Orangemen were proud, and they also were quick to point out that they are the only team to which Georgetown ever has lost in Big East tournament play. And tonight was the third time.
As a result, Syracuse moved into Saturday's 7 p.m. final, where it will face top-seeded and fifth-ranked St. John's, which defeated Villanova, 75-64, in tonight's other semifinal.
It was the 400th career victory for Coach Lou Carnesecca of St. John's (29-4), which had 29 points and 14 rebounds from 6-8 center/forward Walter Berry. Mark Jackson, the Redmen's point guard, had 14 assists, breaking the tournament record of 13 in a game that he set the night before against Seton Hall.
The 14th-ranked Hoyas were on the verge of pulling off their first upset in more than five years. Georgetown senior guard David Wingate sent the game into overtime by hitting a jumper with nine seconds left, tying the game at 65. Michael Jackson had hit a pair of 20-foot jumpers that helped the Hoyas (23-7) erase a seven-point deficit.
In overtime, Reggie Williams made two steals that led directly to two Georgetown baskets that tied the game at 69 with 1:42 remaining.
But thereafter, the Hoyas didn't make the plays they are accustomed to making, especially in the postseason.
It certainly didn't help Georgetown's cause to have Williams-who had 18 points, eight rebounds and six steals-foul out with 1:20 left.
Even so, the Hoyas trailed by only 71-69 after Syracuse's Rafael Addison made a pair of free throws, Georgetown had enough chances to win but couldn't make the plays.
The Hoyas' defense trapped Addison and Dwayne (Pearl) Washington in the back court for a 10-second violation with 47 seconds left.
But Wingate, trying to dump the ball inside to center Ralph Dalton underneath the basket, watched in frustration as the ball rolled out of bounds.
Washington, who led Syracuse (25-4) with 21 points, made one of two free throws to make it 72-69 with 24 seconds left.
The Hoyas still had a shot, but Michael Jackson lost his dribble to Addison with 14 seconds left, and Addison wound up hitting the two free throws that put the game out of reach at 74-69.
Georgetown did make it close, and interesting, by getting layups from Michael Jackson and Wingate in the final eight seconds. But the Hoyas ran out of time and timeouts-they were assessed a technical foul with one second left for calling one.
"You're not going to get a more intense tournament game next week than this one was tonight," said Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim. "That was a great basketball game."
"It was physically and mentally draining," Michael Jackson said.
Jackson probably was more tired than some of the other Hoyas because he had to play again without the help of his senior back-court mate, Horace Broadnax, who still suffers from a sprained back.
Georgetown Coach John Thompson started 6-foot-8 sophomore Ronnie Highsmith in place of Broadnax. But the Hoyas still had to rely on Williams, Wingate (18 points) and Jackson (seven for 10, 14 points).
Those three and just about everybody else took turns guarding The Pearl, and it took a toll; Washington committed 11 turnovers. Wingate and freshman Charles Smith were especially tough on Washington, who made 10 of 19 shots and also had eight assists.
One of Washington's missed shots-a 23-footer with three seconds left in regulation-could have won the game for Syracuse.
"I don't know who was guarding me at the end. They were focusing on me, and the refs were focusing on me," Washington said. "It seems like everybody on their team guarded me except Ralph Dalton, and I'm surprised he didn't take a turn. They kept putting fresh guys on me, trying to wear me down."
Washington was particularly tough down the stretch. One move, a crossover dribble, stutterstep drive into the lane, produced the basket that put the Orangemen ahead, 60-55.
And a short bank shot by Washington just after he nearly lost the ball twice made it 65-61 with 1:18 to play.
Washington also was involved in a minor altercation with Williams with eight minutes to play and the game tied at 49.
Syracuse, not an especially emotional team, seemed to get fired up as a result and scored nine of the next 11 points to take a 58-51 lead.
"We've gotten into skirmishes before with this team in the past, and we haven't reacted too well," Boeheim said. "But it helped us a little tonight. We reacted well and used it to our advantage."
But forget about all the high-profile Syracuse players such as Washington for a moment. Yes, Addison did score 15 points and make some big baskets. And yes, 6-10 center Rony Seikaly did grab six rebounds and block five Georgetown shots.
But it was forward Howard Triche, primarily a defensive specialist, who really hurt the Hoyas when the rest of the Orangemen were somewhat lethargic.
Triche scored 13 points and had 10 rebounds. He scored three baskets in the first half that helped turn Georgetown's 27-18 lead into a 30-29 advantage for the Orangemen.
Thompson said he told his team, which is expected to receive an at-large NCAA bid, that it is playing "very well, very well right now."
The Hoyas are apparently no longer a great team, but certainly a very good one.