Syracuse snaps Georgetown's winning streak at 11Feb 27, 2007 - 5:40 AM SYRACUSE, New York (Ticker) -- Demetris Nichols saved his best game against Georgetown for his last - at the Carrier Dome, that is.
Nichols scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half as Syracuse used a late run to capture a must-needed quality win with a 72-58 victory over the rival No. 10 Hoyas in a Big East Conference clash.
Snapping Georgetown's 11-game winning streak, Syracuse (21-8, 10-5 Big East) recorded the high-profile win it needed to improve its chances for an at-large bid in the NCAA Tournament. The 2003 national champion, the Orange have reached the NCAAs in eight of the past nine seasons and 25 times in the 31 seasons under Hall of Fame coach Jim Boeheim.
"This was our best game of the year," Boeheim said. "Georgetown is a great basketball team. We probably caught them a little down - but not much."
"We're in there. I hope so," sophomore guard Eric Devendorf said about Syracuse's chances for the NCAAs. "This is big. Beating Georgetown, the (10th-best) team in the country, with the crowd on our side. It was great."
Syracuse, which has won its last five games, solidified its hold on fifth place in the Big East standings. It closes out the regular season at Villanova on Saturday.
"Our backs have been against the wall," Boeheim said. "We've come a long way in just two weeks. Our seniors really picked it up."
"A lot of people doubted us but I think we answered them tonight," Nichols said.
One of three senior starters and the Big East's leading scorer at 18.9 points, Nichols had been quite unimpressive in his previous four games against the Hoyas, averaging just six points on 41 percent (9-of-22) shooting.
Nichols, however, ended his collegiate career at home in style, sinking two big 3-pointers in an 18-2 run that turned a one-point deficit for Syracuse into a 61-46 lead with less than 5 1/2 minutes remaining.
Georgetown (22-6, 12-3), which could have clinched the Big East regular-season title with a win, held a 44-43 lead with about 11 1/2 minutes remaining when Syracuse freshman Paul Harris converted two free throws.
Harris, who finished with 11 points, added a layup for a 47-44 edge with 11:06 to go. Although Patrick Ewing, Jr. came back with a basket for the Hoyas, the Orange took control of the game after consecutive 3-pointers by Andy Rautins and Nichols.
The duo repeated the feat later in the decisive spurt, with Nichols' fadeaway 3-pointer from the right wing making it 59-46 with 6:14 remaining.
Nichols finished 6-of-16 from the field with four 3-pointers and Rautins scored 13 points for Syracuse, which beat Georgetown for the eighth time in the last nine meetings at the Carrier Dome.
The 6-8 Nichols, who stands fifth on the school's 3-point list with 185, received a standing ovation when he left the court with 1:21 remaining and some reassuring words from Boeheim.
"That's how an MVP plays," said Nichols of his coach's words to him before going to bench.
Devendorf had 11 points and 11 assists and senior center Darryl Watkins added nine points and eight rebounds for the Orange, who shot 52 percent (12-of-23) in the second half to improve to 42-35 in the all-time series with the Hoyas, including 26-10 at home.
Ewing and DaJuan Summers scored 10 points apiece for the Hoyas, who shot 31 percent (17-of-55), including 6-of-26 from the arc.
Georgetown, which finished with 19 turnovers, struggled mightily against Syracuse's fabled 2-3 zone in the second half, going 6-of-30 (20 percent) from the field including 3-of-16 on 3-pointers.
"Our defense was the difference," Boeheim said. "This is the best we moved and played defense all year."
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