WASHINGTON (AP)—Beating No. 1 is good; Beating your No. 1 nemesis is even better.
Jeff Green scored 18 points and No. 23 Georgetown wore down Syracuse in the second half for a 68-53 victory Saturday, snapping a five-game losing streak against the Orange.
For Hoyas coach John Thompson III and five seniors who had never beaten Syracuse, Saturday’s 68-53 victory was even sweeter than the Hoyas’ win over top-ranked Duke in January.
“The Duke game was nice, This is nicer,” Thompson said.
“We’ve come so close plenty of times. This one is definitely the greatest feeling,” said Brandon Bowman, who had two key steals and went 4-for-4 from the line in the second half, when Georgetown took advantage of foul trouble by Terrance Roberts and Demetrius Nichols.
The Syracuse front line had thwarted Georgetown’s inside game for much of the first half.
Also playing their final home games, Darrel Owens added 12 for the Hoyas (19-7, 10-5 Big East) and Ashanti Cook held Gerry McNamara to just eight points on 3-for-10 shooting, including 2 of 7 from 3-point range.
Eric Devendorf had 13 points and Darryl Watkins added 12 for the Orange (18-8, 7-7), who did not go to the free throw line in the second half and were outrebounded 21-12.
Georgetown center Roy Hibbert had six rebounds after half-time, Green five and Owens four.
“We didn’t do a very good job on the offensive glass,” said Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim.
Georgetown patiently attacked the Syracuse zone and finally took advantage of its opportunities in the second half.
“Coach emphasized rebounding before the game, all week long,” Bowman said. “He said we could get some boards on this team and then get their big men in foul trouble … and that’s exactly what we did.”
Green scored five straight points and had an assist during a 10-2 run to put the Hoyas ahead 43-35 early in second half. His three-point play with 16:31 to play sent Roberts to the bench with his fourth foul and the Hoyas took off from there.
The Orange pulled within three on Devendorf’s lay-up three minutes later, but Georgetown answered with a 13-4 run over the next five minutes. Owens finished it off with a fast-break lay-up off a steal by Bowman and a 3-pointer to make it 58-46.
Roberts returned briefly but fouled out with 5:48 to play and Syracuse could get no closer than nine the rest of the way.
Boeheim wouldn’t talk about his team’s chances for making the NCAA Tournament.
“I’m not going to talk about that stuff,” he said. “The season doesn’t end today.”
The Orange still have conference games against DePaul and No. 2 Villanova.
Thompson played coy about his team’s tournament chances, but pointed to the level of competition.
“I don’t know. We’ll see,” he said “People tell me it’s is the best conference in the country. We’ll take our chances with the selection committee.”