No. 17 Georgetown gets past No. 21 Syracuse Hoyas win, 64-60, in sloppy contest

January 06, 1993|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- There was a time when Georgetown-Syracus was one of the biggest matchups in college basketball, when players such as Patrick Ewing, Reggie Williams, Derrick Coleman and Billy Owens provided fire to a fierce rivalry.

By the time the final buzzer sounded last night, the teams were close, with Georgetown coming out on top, 64-60. But the battle between these two Big East Conference giants doesn't have the same luster.

No. 17 Georgetown (8-1, 1-1) shot just 39 percent from the field. But the Hoyas were able to outlast No. 21 Syracuse (8-3, 0-3), which shot just 38.5 percent and committed 26 turnovers in a game that hardly resembled the epic games of the past.

"There were plenty of good shots for both teams, but neither could put the ball in the basket," said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, whose team's conference record represents its worst start. "It was a matter of who would make the big shot."

That turned out to be Georgetown forward Robert Churchwell, whose three-point jumper with 3:05 left broke a 52-52 tie and gave the Hoyas a lead they would keep. The 6-foot-6 junior tied a career high with 21 points, to go along with 10 rebounds while playing 39 minutes.

"[Coach John Thompson] is always telling me to look for my shot more, in the context of my game," said Churchwell, who scored 15 of his points (hitting seven of 11 shots) in the second half. "I had the feeling tonight."

From the outset it didn't seem as if either team was capable of doing much of anything. In a first half that could be best described as awful, Syracuse failed to score its first field goal until more than five minutes had gone by, yet was only two points down because the Hoyas weren't playing much better.

Georgetown freshman center Othella Harrington was the only bright spot for either team in the first half, scoring 15 points on 5-for-6 shooting from the field and 5-for-6 from the line. But after the Hoyas built their biggest lead of the half, 20-11, the Orangemen got untracked and trailed 28-27 at halftime.

"The game was played just like two teams who had just lost ballgames," Thompson said. "In the beginning, everybody was tentative."

Syracuse rallied behind sophomore forward Lawrence Moten (22 points) at the start of the second half, taking a 37-32 lead after a dunk by Conrad McRae with 14:41 left.

But Georgetown, behind its pressure full-court defense, ran off the next nine points and, after Churchwell's dunk, led 41-37.

The Hoyas would increase that lead by as many as eight a few minutes later, but with Moten and McRae playing tough inside on offense, the Orangemen tied the game at 52 with 5:33 left. Churchwell responded with his clutch three and the Hoyas' tenacious defense never let the Orangemen back in the game.

"Coming down the stretch, Robert hit some big shots and did some very good things," Thompson said. "Our defense reminded me of yesteryear in the way we trapped. I don't think we got that much out of our traps in a long time.

"I thought the game was typical of Big East basketball. This team will eventually be a good team. I don't know if it'll be this year or next year, but I have a good feeling about this group."

The same can't be said by Boeheim, who was once again denied his 400th career win. Should it happen within the next nine games, Boeheim, who is in his 17th season, will have reached that plateau at an earlier point than any coach in NCAA history.

But the way Boeheim is feeling, he'd be thankful to have his team just play well.

"We're not playing well and we don't have a lot of confidence," he said. "We're just not making key plays down the stretch when we have to."

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