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Georgetown-Syracuse: Four great games from one of college hoops' best rivalries

Pearl Washington was one of several stars who made the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry one of the nation's best during the 1980s. Photo:

Pearl Washington was one of several stars who made the Syracuse-Georgetown rivalry one of the nation's best during the 1980s.

Syracuse and Georgetown announced earlier this week the resumption of their storied rivalry with a four-year, home-and-home series starting in the 2015-16 season. The Hoyas will host the Orange at Washington, D.C.’s Verizon Center in 2015-16 and 2017-18, with the teams meeting at the Carrier Dome in 2016-17 and 2018-19. Unlike when these longtime powers belonged to the old Big East, however, they will not be squaring off in a conference tournament. Still, this announcement is cause for excitement: The Northeast’s greatest college basketball rivalry will return, if in a different form than it previously existed. Here’s a look back at four of the best games between Syracuse and Georgetown, two on each school’s home court.

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At Syracuse

“Manley Field House is officially closed.”
Georgetown 52, No. 2 Syracuse 50, February 13, 1980

Syracuse rode a 57-game home winning streak into its matchup with Georgetown at old Manley Field House. The Orange had a 14-point halftime lead, but the Hoyas battled back and Eric “Sleepy” Floyd knocked down a pair of free throws in the waning seconds to wrap up a 52-50 win. After the game, Georgetown coach John Thompson proclaimed, “Manley Field House is officially closed.” Syracuse fans and players were shocked, and Georgetown players celebrated by chanting those six words again and again.

This game – and Thompson’s famous line afterward – is recognized as the starting point of the heated rivalry. It continued long after the Orange moved to the Carrier Dome the next season and after Thompson’s retirement during the 1998-99 season and was perhaps at its most intense during Big East tournament games. “The caliber of player, the intensity — it was a physical war,” former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese said in 2013. “It epitomized what the Big East was: a street game, in New York City, in Madison Square Garden. No place for the faint of heart.”

 

Pearl Washington sinks top-ranked Georgetown
No. 9 Syracuse 65, No. 1 Georgetown 63, January 28, 1985 

Led by three-time first-team All America Patrick Ewing, defending national champion Georgetown entered this matchup coming off its first loss of the season but still carrying a 26-game road winning streak. Ewing paced the Hoyas with 21 points and 17 rebounds, but the Orange hung around thanks to a game-high 26 points from Rafael Addison. After erasing an eight-point second-half deficit, Georgetown led 63-62 inside the final minute before turning the ball over, and Boeheim called a timeout with 16 seconds remaining. The Syracuse coach directed Washington to either shoot or find Addison. Washington drained a 15-footer for a 64-63 lead and later converted a free throw to make it 65-63. The crowd of more than 32,000 at the Carrier Dome had forced multiple stoppages of play earlier in the game by throwing oranges onto the court (including one against the backboard while Ewing was shooting a free throw), prompting Boeheim to address the crowd over the loudspeaker. After the game, fans celebrated with a raucous court storming and ESPN broadcaster Tom Mees resorted to throwing an elbow at an unruly fan who interfered with his postgame reporting.

At Georgetown

Billy Owens helps Syracuse snap Georgetown’s home streak
No. 11 Syracuse 95, No. 3 Georgetown 76, January 27, 1990

Georgetown had won 27 consecutive games at the Capital Centre in Landover, Md. Before more than 19,000 fans, Syracuse sophomore Billy Owens, a versatile 6-foot-9 forward/guard, scored 36 points on 11-of-17 shooting and 14-of-17 from the free throw line, and snared 10 rebounds against the Hoyas’ aggressive defense in a 95-76 win. ”He had it going, and when someone has it going, it’s pretty hard to stop them,” Thompson said of Owens, whose 36 points are the most any Syracuse player has scored against Georgetown. The Orangemen got help from Big East Conference player of the year Derrick Coleman, who scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Center Alonzo Mourning, who became a seven-time NBA All-Star, had 22 points and five rebounds for the Hoyas.

McDonald fries Orangemen with buzzer-beater
No. 11 Georgetown 83, No. 6 Syracuse 81, overtime, January 31, 1987

Aware that Georgetown center Ben Gillery wouldn’t be a good match up for future first-round draft pick Rony Seikaly, Thompson made a key decision to put 6-foot-4 Perry McDonald on the Syracuse big man. In a sterling two-way performance, McDonald limited the 6-11 Seikaly to 13 points while scoring a career-high 23 of his own and grabbing seven rebounds. After Georgetown battled back from eight points down with 5:12 to go in the second half to force overtime, McDonald, fittingly, delivered a game-winning shot. With the score knotted at 81 – and on a play geared for leading scorer Reggie Williams, who led the Hoyas with 30 points – the second-team All Big East guard caught a bounce pass near the free throw line with two Orangemen nearby. McDonald spun, bumped off a defender and rattled home a one-handed jumper from six feet away. As Thompson strode off the court afterward, a towel draped over his right shoulder, he raised his hands in celebration, a salute to the still-delirious Capital Centre crowd. Derrick Coleman had 17 points and 11 rebounds for Syracuse, which would be on the wrong end of another last-second shot later that season, when Indiana’s Keith Smart made a baseline jumper with five seconds left to win the national championship game.

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