Syracuse To Big East Final
By MIKE FITZPATRICK
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Brandon Triche scored the go-ahead basket early in overtime and No. 19 Syracuse advanced to the Big East championship game with a 58-55 victory over No. 5 Georgetown on Friday night in the final conference clash of their storied heavyweight rivalry.
The fifth-seeded Orange (26-8) will make their 15th appearance in the tournament title game and go for their sixth crown Saturday night at Madison Square Garden against fourth-ranked Louisville, the defending champion, or No. 24 Notre Dame.
Triche, James Southerland and backup center Baye Moussa Keita all had 13 points for Syracuse, trying to close out its Big East tenure with one more championship before bolting for the ACC next season.
The Orange held top-seeded Georgetown (25-6) to 22 percent shooting from 3-point range with their trademark 2-3 zone and got a big game from their bench to avenge a pair of double-digit losses to the Hoyas this season.
Georgetown is one of seven basketball-focused Catholic schools splitting off from the conference to create their own league, which will begin play next season and keep the Big East name. Syracuse is headed to the ACC with several other schools.
There’s an interest on both sides to resume the rivalry as nonconference foes, but no deal has been completed.
The Orange took charge with a 13-0 run in the first half, holding the Hoyas scoreless for nearly eight minutes. But they later erased a 12-point deficit, tying it at 49 with 1:47 left in regulation on two free throws by Jabril Trawick.
Baye Moussa Keita hit a pair of foul shots to put the Orange back on top at the 1:23 mark, but Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter Jr. drew a blocking foul on C.J. Fair and calmly canned both ends of a 1-and-1 to tie it at 51 with 7.3 seconds to go.
Michael Carter-Williams had a chance to win it for Syracuse, but he missed a shot just before the buzzer and the fiercest rivalry in Big East history was extended for another 5 minutes.
Triche scored on a driving layup to start the extra session, Keita put the Orange up by four with a putback and they held on from there _ thanks in part to an emphatic, soaring dunk by Fair over multiple outstretched arms.
Down by three, Georgetown got the ball with 18.4 seconds remaining. Syracuse trapped Porter near the sideline and he threw an off-balance pass into the middle of the court that was intercepted.
Fair had a chance to seal it at the line, but he missed both free throws. Trawick’s heave from halfcourt banged off the backboard, and the jubilant Orange held on.
Porter finished with 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting. Hoyas point guard Markel Starks scored 13 before fouling out with 3:36 to go in overtime and Mikael Hopkins led the team with 15.
The loss could be costly to Georgetown’s chances at a No. 1 seed in the NCAAs. The Hoyas dropped to 15-2 as the top seed in the Big East tournament.
Led by Keita and Trevor Cooney, Syracuse’s bench outscored the Hoyas’ reserves 23-5. Georgetown went 11 for 20 at the free throw line (55 percent).
The Hoyas own seven tournament championships, tied with Connecticut for the most among member schools. They won the first one 33 years ago in Providence, beating Syracuse in the final, of course, and wanted to put a bow on this era of Big East basketball by ending it with one more.
The sellout crowd buzzed in anticipation as the teams lined up for the opening tip, Georgetown in traditional all gray and Syracuse in its signature Orange.
Southerland hit a pair of 3s early in the second half to extend Syracuse’s lead to 12, but Hopkins kept the Hoyas in it by scoring their first seven points out of the break.
Markel Starks had five straight points to pull Georgetown within five before Triche, yanked by angry coach Jim Boeheim moments earlier after a turnover, stemmed the tide momentarily with a three-point play and a 3-pointer.
A fired-up Triche screamed as he hopped down the court to the delight of a loud pro-Syracuse crowd that included former Orange greats Dwayne “Pearl” Washington and Derrick Coleman sitting behind the baseline.
Georgetown had an early five-point edge before a three-point play by backup center Keita started a 19-4 spurt for the Orange that pushed them in front. Southerland hit a 3-pointer to tie it and Syracuse’s first lead came on a 3 by Cooney that put the Orange up 20-17 with 6:25 remaining in the first half.
Carter-Williams made a steal and soared in for a dunk, Cooney connected on another 3 from the right corner and when Trawick was called for charging, the fired-up Orange bounced back to the bench as Boeheim clapped his approval.
Fans chanted “Let’s go Orange!” during the ensuing timeout with 3:09 left in the first half, and Cooney capped the spurt with a layup that made it 27-17.
The Hoyas went scoreless for 7:45 until Trawick made a 3 with 43 seconds left to cut their deficit to seven. Keita hit two free throws to send Syracuse into the locker room with a 29-20 advantage.
Cooney had 10 points in the first half on 4-of-5 shooting. The sophomore guard from Wilmington, Del., came in averaging 11.7 minutes and 3.5 points per game.