Oof. With under a minute to play, Georgetown looked to have withstood a huge second-half comeback by hated rival Syracuse. After an ice-cold first half, the Orange had predictably heated up after the break, hitting a series of threes to pull even with and then ahead of the Hoyas. But several bombs by Greg Malinowski had kept Georgetown close, and a pair of clutch buckets by Jessie Govan had put the Georgetown back up by one. After a stop, the visiting Hoyas held the ball in a position to give the Orange just a few seconds to hoist up a last-second try.
But a Georgetown mistake and a Syracuse game-winner changed all that. The error could be assigned to coaching or to execution, as Jagan Mosely, without a point on the day and with as many turnovers as assists, was given the ball to create a play. Mosely drove down the lane early, committing a charge with five seconds left on the shot clock. The foul gave the Orange the ball, along with precious additional time to get a shot off.
Syracuse star Tyus Battle took that opportunity, driving at Mosely to generate enough space to pull up for a jumper just inside the three-point line. Battle buried that jumper to put the Orange ahead, and a last-second Hoya heave was just off.
The loss was painful, but it wasn’t a disaster. After a middling homestand against so-so competition, Georgetown acquitted itself well in the Carrier Dome. Govan, who has generally played well against the Orange, had his best performance Saturday, scoring a team-high 22 points to go with 12 big rebounds and 4 assists. Mac McClung had 18 points, albeit on 16 points, providing much of the punch in an offensively challenged first half that saw Georgetown build a 15-point lead.
Even after the Orange came back, there were silver linings. Malinowski hit a trio of big second-half three-pointers, helping Georgetown fight back in front of a hostile, energized crowd. The Hoyas could have folded in the face of an Orange wave and didn’t, instead reclaiming the lead before the fateful final seconds. And Josh LeBlanc provided his usual energy and athleticism to the tune of 8 points and 12 rebounds. Even a coach like Patrick Ewing who rejects moral victories can take plenty of positive from Saturday.
But to have come so close to a road win against a rival is painful just the same. As with any one-point game, Georgetown can look to any number of wasted possessions and opportunities and wonder, what if. A second-half dry spell that, combined with Syracuse’s offensive awakening, erased a double-digit Hoya lead. A series of over-eager heaves from McClung and James Akinjo, who combined to shoot just 8 of 23 on the day before riding the pine down the stretch. Another quiet day from Jamorko Pickett who continued a monthlong slump by scoring just 3 points. The decision to leave in Mosely and Jahvon Blair in the game’s waning moments, who had help stabilize Georgetown down the stretch but might not have been ideal candidates to make a play on a short clock.
Today was a disappointment, but not a failure. It can be motivation for the season ahead. The Hoyas will have a week of finals to rue these missed opportunities before hosting SMU next weekend. That will be its own challenge, another chance for Georgetown to prove itself against a tough opponent.