Once again, Georgetown managed to beat Syracuse at Capital Centre yesterday, ensuring that Ronald Reagan will never suffer the ignominy of seeing a Hoyas home loss to the Orangemen during his presidency.

The Hoyas won their seventh straight home game over Syracuse, and eighth of 10 overall, by knocking off the 11th-ranked Orangemen, 71-69, in front of an announced sellout of 19,025.

Georgetown has not dropped a home game to the Orangemen since the start of Big East play, and won the only game played at McDonough Arena as well, in 1981.

Though these teams play each other at least twice a season, Georgetown still managed to befuddle Syracuse with a trap late in the first half that erased an 11-point deficit and created a two-point halftime lead.

In the second half, Georgetown guards Charles Smith and Mark Tillmon hit big shots to stake the Hoyas (16-6 overall, 6-5 in the Big East) to a slim lead. The Hoyas' packed zone kept Rony Seikaly and Derrick Coleman from taking charge. And sophomore guard Matt Roe, who had 12 first-half points, all on three-pointers, was held scoreless in the final 20 minutes.

Tillmon, who could barely move in Tuesday's win over Seton Hall because of soreness in his back, returned to score a team-high 19 points, including four three-pointers. Smith wound up with 17, 13 in the second half.

"It feels good if you hit a couple of shots early," said Tillmon. "Your confidence just rises. And I think that's what helped me today, that I hit a couple of early shots. I felt mentally in to it. I was ready to play today."

But Georgetown, if it did not win the game in the first half, certainly took control of the game's tempo and shattered any semblance of a half-court game by the Orangemen. With Roe loosening up the Hoyas' zone on four long-range baskets, Syracuse's Sherman Douglas was able to feed Seikaly and Coleman inside.

"At that point, you've got to go after them," Hoyas Coach John Thompson said. "We had to change things around. We went into man, started to trap out of our man some. It created some momentum, and it changed a lot of our feelings, and we started to play a lot better."

Syracuse got out of the blocks early. Coleman scored seven points in the first 11 minutes. Georgetown had to concede the outside jumper with its zone so tight, and Roe circled the three-point area.

After Syracuse forward Steve Thompson (game-high 20 points) scored on a three-point play with 4:57 left in the first half, the Orangemen (18-6, 7-4) had a 33-22 lead. But the Hoyas then went to their trap, and Syracuse reacted as if it had never seen it before.

Perry McDonald (six points) scored on a layin off Smith's pass, then hit a spinner on the right side to cut Syracuse's lead to 33-26. Smith stole the ensuing pass and scored, giving the Hoyas six points in 1:28 and making the score 33-28.

Syracuse called time, but turned over the ball again. Smith canned a 12-footer after two offensive rebounds (the Hoyas had a 40-38 edge on the boards) to cut the lead to three. Seikaly, who had 12 points, four below his average, hit a free throw, but Douglas was on the bench with his third foul and the Orangemen were struggling to get the ball into the front court.

"We had the feeling on the floor," said Georgetown's Jaren Jackson. "The trap was going so well that we called it every time . . . Most of them didn't handle the ball as much as Sherman did. We tried to hit Roe and {backup guard Earl} Duncan."

"We do feel it when a team is on the ropes and rattled," McDonald said. "Coach Thompson says when you have somebody down, keep them down."

Seikaly hit a free throw, and Jackson hit two. Dwayne Bryant then scored from 14 feet to tie the game at 34 with 1:28 to play. Then, the game clock on the overhead Telscreen went out, and the official time was kept on a backup clock.

Bryant ended the 14-1 run with about 32 seconds left on a jumper.

"They still press like they did when Patrick {Ewing} was here," Seikaly said. "They do the same stuff. We had a nine-point lead in the first half, and we lost it like we never had it."

Still, Syracuse was up by four, 46-42, when Douglas hit a three-pointer with 15:45 to play. But the Hoyas had another run in them, a 13-2 spurt that gave them control of the game. Tillmon hit two free throws, and Jackson scored a layin off a Smith assist to tie the score with 14:20 to play.

Then Tillmon, who had three three-pointers in the first half, canned another to give Georgetown a three-point lead. Thompson scored for Syracuse, but Smith answered with a three-pointer to give the Hoyas a four-point edge.

The Orangemen were in the midst of missing six straight free throws (they shot 17 of 30 from the line). Jackson missed a jumper, but Tillmon grabbed one of Georgetown's 18 offensive rebounds.