Kiss Georgetown goodbye: SU wins in overtime to move on to Big East Championship

No. 19 Syracuse finally won against No. 5 Georgetown this season, thanks to the unexpected help of Baye Moussa Keita and Trevor Cooney.

Third time’s the charm. At least as far as No. 19 Syracuse was concerned.

Sparked by surprise contributions from Baye Mousa Keita, the fifth-seeded Orange (26-8) won in classic overtime fashion against archrival No. 5 Georgetown, 58-55. In the previous two match-ups, the Hoyas got the best of the Orange, winning both games.

Photo: Taylor Baucom
Michael Carter-Williams drives to the basket in the semi-final game against Georgetown Friday night. Carter-Williams was recently named Big East Most Improved Player along side Providence's Kadeem Batts.

“Tonight was the night to make a statement,” Kieta said. “We knew the game was going to be close, we just needed to make sure we won.”

Keita finished the night with 13 points and eight rebounds, and hit all seven of his team-leading free throws, including four crucial foul shots as the second half dwindled down.

Syracuse held a 29-20 lead at halftime, mostly due to the breakout performance of redshirt freshman Trevor Cooney. Cooney scored 10 points and had four defensive rebounds in 13 minutes of first-half play, mostly in place of Brandon Triche, who was in foul trouble. Head coach Jim Boeheim said he usually will play someone with two fouls, but Cooney’s defense allowed Boeheim to give him extra minutes.

“He was the best player on the court in the first half,” Boeheim said, “no question.”

Cooney scored six of his point from behind the arc, the place he is known for having success. But he did not shoot particularly well during the regular season.

“Hitting the first one definitely gave me some rhythm,” Cooney said. “Once you get the first one out of the next ones are a lot easier.”

Although Syracuse's lead did shrink significantly in the second half, the Orange never felt as if it would lose.

“We just kept thinking we were going to win,” Kieta said.

With the motivation of facing their biggest rival paired with the two debilitating losses they suffered against them earlier in the season, the Orange had everything they needed for the mindset to win.

“Just reading comments by them, talking trash about us, it made it even more important to win a game like this,” Triche said. Triche joined James Southerland and Kieta with a team-leading 13 points, and added three rebounds and assists. Triche also passed SU-great Derrick Coleman for most games started in his career with Syracuse in tonight's game

Southerland had his least impressive game of the tournament, shooting only 40-percent from behind the arc, with 4-for-10 shooting. However, he did make his seventeenth three-pointer of the tournament, passing Gerry McNamara's 2006 Big East tournament record for threes.

Georgetown tied up the game with just seven seconds on the clock after Big East Player of the Year Otto Porter Jr. made both of his free throws to send the game to overtime.

In overtime, CJ Fair was finally able to make a large impact, making a crucial steal from Porter with five seconds left and a 58-55 Syracuse lead. Fair was then fouled with 3.2 seconds left, but missed both free throws. However, the small amount of time remaining forced a desperation three from Georgetown. The shot was off, and Syracuse won 58-55.

As big as this victory was for the Orange, who will never face the Hoyas as conference foes again, there is still one more game in their Big East history: tomorrow's championship.

“There's a lot still to look forward to,” Fair said following the dramatic victory. “The championship is the ultimate goal.”

The Orange will play No. 4 Louisville in the Big East Championship at 8:30 on Saturday.

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