SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Jahvon Blair collected the inbound pass near midcourt, squared up to the basket and released a desperation heave that rattled around the rim and out as time expired.
Thus ended Georgetown’s aspirations of outlasting Syracuse on Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome in another thrilling conclusion to one of college basketball’s most storied rivalries.
The decisive points in the Orange’s 72-71 triumph came courtesy of Tyus Battle’s pullup jumper with 2.8 seconds remaining with Jagan Mosley defending. Moments earlier, officials had called Mosley for charging with 11 seconds to play when he collided with Marek Dolezaj, resulting in the Hoyas’ 15th and final turnover.
Georgetown (7-2) surrendered 19 points off turnovers and failed to protect a 15-point lead in the second half, losing to its former rival from the original Big East for the third time in seven meetings.
The Orange (7-2), now part of the ACC, is the last opponent from a power conference Georgetown plays until opening its Big East schedule Jan. 2.
“You knew they were going to come out with a better effort than they did in the first half,” Georgetown Coach Patrick Ewing said. “I thought that we got back on our heels little bit, but on the road, 10 seconds to go, that turnover hurt us. Of all the turnovers we had, that one hurt us.”
Center Jessie Govan led the Hoyas with 22 points and 12 rebounds and freshman guard Mac McClung had 13 of his 18 points during the first half in front of an announced crowd of 24,082 that reached a fever pitch during Syracuse’s second-half comeback.
Battle scored 21 of his game-high 26 points in the second half, answering the halftime challenge issued from Orange Coach Jim Boeheim.
During a 14-2 surge early in the second half, Battle scored 10 points, including a three-pointer and a three-point play. Another burst minutes later featured two field goals from Battle to put Syracuse in front, 54-48.
The Orange shot 60 percent in the second half, including 7 for 14 from three-point range. It had shot just 1 for 14 from beyond the arc in the first half, providing the typically boisterous crowd little to cheer.
Syracuse entered shooting just 29 percent on three-pointers, playing the first four games this season without ailing point guard Frank Howard (Paul VI). The senior from Suitland is among the Orange’s top three-point shooters, making 67 of 205 last season.
Howard went 0-for-3 on three-pointers against Georgetown but collected a game-high four steals.
“It was a great win,” Boeheim said. “The fans were absolutely phenomenal once we started playing well. They weren’t too good when we weren’t playing very good. When we got going, they really got into the game and made a big difference in the game. Patrick’s done a great job with his team.”
It’s unclear, however, when or even if Georgetown and Syracuse will play again despite their intertwined histories in elevating the original Big East into an elite conference.
Ewing, who had some of his most memorable games as a Georgetown player facing Syracuse, has indicated he’s eager for the series to continue. Boeheim wasn’t nearly as enthusiastic following the Orange’s fifth consecutive win, citing the demands of the ACC expanding its conference schedule to 20 games next season.
Georgetown and Syracuse have played 94 times overall, but there’s no contract in place for future games.
“We’re done with that league,” Boeheim said, referring to the Orange’s former association with the Big East. “We have to be concerned about what’s best for Syracuse. I love Patrick. He’s been great. We just have to see what’s best, and we have to look at that and make a decision.”
If Saturday’s game does mark the final installment of Georgetown-Syracuse, at least for the foreseeable future, the ending to this one certainly was befitting two of the sport’s traditional powers.
The closing three minutes included five lead changes, beginning with Jalen Carey’s three-pointer to put Syracuse ahead, 67-66, with 2:35 to go. Govan reclaimed the lead for Georgetown on a turnaround jumper until Battle’s three-pointer gave the Orange a two-point edge.
Govan swished a three-pointer with 1:05 to play to move the Hoyas in front, 71-70, and Battle missed a jumper shortly thereafter, with Mosley collecting the rebound before committing the charge that brought fans to their feet to applaud Dolezaj.
In an unexpected move, Ewing deployed a zone defense with roughly nine minutes left in the second half, catching Syracuse off guard. The Orange eventually adjusted, though, and continued to get to the rim, scoring 16 of its 26 points in the paint during the second half.
“They just started getting hot and making shots,” Govan said. “We knew second half they were going to come out hot, especially after the first half that they had, and they did that.”
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