SYRACUSE, JAN. 24 -- In between the shots Georgetown's Charles Smith made to begin and end today's game at the Carrier Dome, there was some serious basketball played.

But his game-ending scoop shot in the lane, coming after a coast-to-coast drive, was the last and most important of the baskets in the 15th-ranked Hoyas' electrifying 69-68 victory over the 14th-ranked Orangemen before 32,419.

It ended a taut, well-played game and ruined a great ending for Syracuse guard Sherman Douglas, a graduate of Spingarn High School. He scored on a clearout with eight seconds to play to put Syracuse up by one. This came after Mark Tillmon's two free throws with 18 seconds to play put Georgetown up for the second time in the half, 67-66.

Tillmon was fouled by Rony Seikaly (game-high 22 points). Syracuse Coach Jim Boeheim said that call, and one 21 seconds before on Derrick Coleman that led to Tillmon making one of two from the line, were inconsistent with how the game was called for the first 39 minutes 21 seconds.

"We get two calls like that at the end of the game," he said, "two nothing calls, and we made one great steal and then a block on the base line {by Seikaly}, it's our ball game. There's no way I can tell our players that they got a fair shake at the end of the ball game."

Until today, Georgetown was desperately seeking anyone who could play a big game in the lane. They got a couple today, the biggest surprise being 7-foot center Ben Gillery. He scored a career-high 11 points and had six rebounds.

Freshman Anthony Tucker had 10 points and five rebounds. He and guard Bobby Winston, who started the game as a forward on the wing of Georgetown's 2-3 zone, scored six points late in the game to keep the Hoyas alive after they twice fell behind by nine.

But in the end, it was Smith (a team-high 13 points). His shot was the off-balance, crazy shot he's been taking all year for the Hoyas (12-4, 3-2 in the Big East) on his way to leading the team in scoring.

After Tillmon's free throws, Douglas drove past Smith to the basket. His shot hit the rim and fell through, and the Orangemen thought the game was theirs.

"I think all of us didn't really get back on defense . . . " Douglas said.

When Douglas' shot fell through, Johnathan Edwards alertly inbounded to Smith, who had begun the game with a two-handed layin. With no timeouts left, Smith took the ball on the right wing in the back court and glanced at the clock.

"If it wasn't for Johnathan Edwards," Smith said, "I wouldn't have gotten the chance to score, because he's the one who passed me the ball. I wasn't going to pass, because there was so little time on the clock. I had to look up, and there were five seconds left. I just drove straight to the basket."

Douglas wanted to force Smith to the middle, into Seikaly. He did that. He didn't want to foul. He didn't. He wanted Smith to have to make a tough shot. Smith did.

"You don't want to foul a guy on a difficult shot," said Douglas (11 points), "put him on the line, and make him win the game. I just tried to make him work the ball up court, take some time off the clock."

Forced to the middle, Smith had to slice between Douglas, on his right, and Seikaly, on his left.

Seikaly: "Sherman was playing very tight {defense}, but he cut in. He scooped it up with his right {hand}. I definitely didn't want to go over his body and block the shot."

With the small amount of room left, Smith got his arm between Douglas and Seikaly, and flicked the ball toward the basket. It looked like it might hit the front rim, but just made it over and swished through the net. The buzzer and the Georgetown bench went off simultaneously.

The result was another heartbreaking loss to Georgetown for Syracuse, which got an inspired game from its front court. Seeing Winston, at 6-5, on the wing of the Georgetown zone, the Orangemen, time and again, lobbed over the Hoyas for dunks by Seikaly (11 rebounds) and Derrick Coleman (10 points, 10 rebounds). The Hoyas couldn't stop them.

The lob worked for five baskets and helped Syracuse to a 34-33 lead at the half, and the Orangemen seemed to take control midway through the second half.

Coleman scored on another slam behind the zone to give Syracuse a 49-42 lead. Georgetown got within five, but after Earl Duncan scored, Seikaly tipped in Douglas' miss for a 56-47 lead.

Georgetown cut the lead to six, and kept it there when Smith made a jumper. But Duncan's open three-pointer moved the margin back to nine points. With the crowd expecting Syracuse to pull away, Winston drove for a transition basket.

Seikaly scored again, but Tucker, who played in selected spots down the stretch, scored from the base line to keep Georgetown within 63-56. Winston then drove inside again, trimming the lead to five.

Coleman made one of two from the line, then Perry McDonald (12 points) drove for a bank shot that made it 64-60. Edwards' two free throws with 3:07 to play brought Georgetown to 64-62. Duncan missed two free throws, and McDonald scored on a lob from Dwayne Bryant to tie the game with 2:25 to play.

Douglas put the Orangemen back up by two with two free throws. Smith missed a jumper, but the Hoyas rebounded. Coleman was then called for his foul. After Tillmon missed the second, McDonald tipped the ball back out front, where Tillmon grabbed it for the final sequence.