For more than two decades, the Syracuse Orangemen have been cast as the rivals of the Georgetown Hoyas. They are the enemy. They are the archnemisis. On Jan. 29, the Hoyas were defeated at the Carrier Dome. On Saturday, at the MCI Center, Georgetown took its revenge.
Despite shooting only 43 percent from the free throw line, the Hoyas dominated offensively, with sophomore guard Demetrius Hunter leading the pack with 21 points. The team made smart shot decisions and executed on a consistent basis, which resulted in a 49 percent field goal clip. Georgetown worked in the paint a lot this game, finding 36 points down low. They also received some outside help from Hunter’s long distance bombs.
Georgetown opened the game with a 7-0 lead. Syracuse responded by taking their only lead of the first half, 15-14. The lead only lasted for one possession, as the Hoyas fought back after an inspiring three-pointer from senior center Lee Scruggs. The Orangemen wouldn’t lead again until early in the second half. Hunter was already in double digits by the end of the first half, after having converted on 2 of 3 three-point attempts and showing off one of his much loved and reknowned dunks. Sophomore forward Victor Samnick was also a strong inside presence in the first half by taking it to the basket and going 3 for 5 from the field.
In the second half, senior center Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje took over. He controlled the paint, going 4 for 7 from the field and ripping down eight rebounds. The center also had two steals and blocked four shots. About ten minutes into the second half, Boumtje-Boumtje had huge consecutive rejections, which terrified the Orangemen, riled up the Hoya bench and drove the crowd wild. The team took the signal from their captain and continued to pull away, strongly finishing off the half and ensuring the win, which, according to Head Coach Craig Esherick, “solidified [the] season.”
The Hoyas also out-rebounded the Orangemen. The entire team took to the glass, pulling down 44 rebounds. First-year forward Mike Sweetney and Boumtje-Boumtje combined for 15 total boards.
“We couldn’t do anything on the boards in the second half,” said Syracuse Head Coach Jim Boeheim, referring to the Orangemen’s 10 rebounds in the half.
Georgetown’s defense was impressive, holding Syracuse to only 36 percent field goal percentage. The Orangemen’s junior guard, Preston Shumpert?who was a focus of the Hoyas’ defense?went 1 for 9 from the field and was an invisible presence throughout the game. Although he only played ten minutes, Coach Esherick pointed to first year forward Gerald Riley as being important for “setting a tone” in the first half for guarding Shumpert. Both Samnick and junior forward Nat Burton followed Riley’s example throughout the rest of the game, with Burton acting as a suffocating force against Shumpert in the second half.
With the Hoyas’ crushing of the Orange, the team’s seat in the Big East Tournament is now secure. Perhaps even more importantly, the victory has boosted Georgetown’s spirits and shown that they have the ability to win with the right mentality.
The Syracuse win is Georgetown’s biggest since defeating Seton Hall in January, and will go a long way to securing an NCAA tournament appearance.