Orange senior Kris Joseph sank a three-pointer with 29 seconds remaining in overtime, and Jason Clark committed a turnover with 4.9 seconds showing on the clock Wednesday at the Carrier Dome, where second-ranked Syracuse held on for an exhilarating 64-61 victory and the crowd of 27,820 serenaded Boeheim after he moved into sole possession of third place on the all-time Division I wins list.
Despite making only 33 percent of their 63 shots, the 12th-ranked Hoyas (18-5, 8-4 Big East) had their share of opportunities to beat Syracuse (24-1, 11-1) on its home floor for the second straight season.
Georgetown freshman Otto Porter (14 points, 13 rebounds) made a jumper with 2 minutes 21 seconds remaining in the extra session to put the Hoyas ahead, 61-59. Even after Dion Waiters pulled the Orange even with a pair of free throws about a minute later, there was hope for the visitors.
Then someone forgot to cover Joseph — again. The 6-foot-7 swingman knocked down an uncontested three-pointer — his sixth of the game — to put Syracuse ahead for good, 64-61. Joseph finished with a career-high 29 points.
“It clearly was” a breakdown, Hoyas Coach John Thompson III said. “He was having a terrific night and we had some type of miscommunication.”
After a Georgetown timeout, the Hoyas called a play for Clark. But the senior guard was stripped by Scoop Jardine, sealing the game.
“They played it well and knocked the ball out of my hands,” said Clark, who finished with 12 points.
Thompson added: “We wanted to get a pick for Jason at the top and see if he could get into the lane and maybe drive and kick to the corner. They played it well.”
As a result, Boeheim escaped with victory No. 880, which moved him out of a tie with former North Carolina coach Dean Smith. Boeheim now trails only Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski (920) and former Indiana coach Bob Knight (902).
After the game, Boeheim wasn’t interested in discussing his personal achievement. He did, however, praise Joseph’s clutch shooting and rip his team’s rebounding effort.
“Kris bailed us out. He made some shots for us. No one else looked comfortable shooting the ball,” Boeheim said. He also used “no excuse” and “disappointing” to describe his team getting out-rebounded 52-35.
Getting to more rebounds than the Orange, though, did little to comfort the Hoyas, who endured their fourth-worst shooting performance of the season.
“They have a terrific defense,” Thompson said of Boeheim’s trademark 2-3 zone. “Their defense keeps you at bay. I thought, with a few exceptions, we executed our game plan of getting the ball into the middle of the zone and then having that guy find out who’s open or see if he had a shot himself. We got decent looks. The ball didn’t go in.”
No one on the Hoyas struggled as much as 6-10 center Henry Sims, who shot 1 for 12 from the floor, the majority of his attempts from the paint. Sims’s counterpart, Fab Melo, meantime, finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and six blocked shots.
“He missed a bunch of layups,” Thompson said of Sims, who had eight rebounds and six points. “The ball just wouldn’t go in. He was getting the ball in pretty good position, right under the basket. I have to go back and look at the tape to see [which ones] he was bumped on, what he wasn’t bumped on. It happens sometimes.”
As suspenseful as the game was for fans, there’s no guarantee the longtime rivals will meet again at the Carrier Dome. In September, Syracuse and Pittsburgh announced their intentions to leave for the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Asked about the tenuous state of one of college basketball’s great rivalries, Thompson was noncommittal.
“They now fall into the category as every other out-of-conference,” opponent, he said. “There’s a finite number of games we can play out of conference. Do I like this series? Has this series been important to Georgetown? Yes. Has it been important to Syracuse? Yes. Has it been important to our conference? Yes. But they’re leaving. So now we’ll see.”
Regardless of what happens to the rivalry, there definitely won’t be another trip to central New York for Clark, not as a member of the Hoyas at least.
“It’s always fun to come up here and play in this atmosphere,” he said. “But you do want to get a win for the last time you’re playing that team. So that’s heartbreaking.”