(Washington DC) -- In a book that's been in the making over thirty years now, the last chapter was dominated by the Georgetown Hoyas. In the final meeting between Georgetown (24-5, 14-4) and Syracuse (23-8, 11-7) as conference foes, the Hoyas dismantled the Orangemen 61-39, simultaneously winning their first Big East regular season title since 2008.
In front of a record crowd at Verizon Center of 20, 972, Georgetown played a physical brand of basketball that the program has built it's foundation on in front of former players that helped build it. The likes of Alonzo Mourning, Michael Graham and Patrick Ewing, who was honored as one of college basketball's 75 greatest players at halftime, sat courtside to witness history.
"I'm disappointed that Syracuse is going to the ACC. It's a business decision and one they needed to make for themselves," said former Naismith College Player of the Year Patrick Ewing.
"Not seeing them (Syracuse) on the schedule anymore just won't feel right," said Chello, a lifelong Georgetown fan I met before the game. Chello was no older then 60, sporting Georgetown gear from head-to-toe. From his Georgetown starter jacket to his blinged out Georgetown hat that said "HOYA" in navy, with silver glitter bordering each letter. "I've been coming to Georgetown games since '87. I like change, but not playing Syracuse? That's tough, it's a love-hate relationship."
From the legends who will forever be cemented in Georgetown history, to the fans who have watched the contention grow over the years, a slight sense of sorrow filled the isles of the Verizon Center.
The game itself was a blowout, one in which the game film could be used for college coaches for years to come. Georgetown (24-5,14-4) put on a clinic defensively, in a performance that masterfully demonstrated how to break down the 2-3 zone. The fact that it was what many recognize as one of the best 2-3 zones in college basketball this decade made it all the more special. Georgetown, a team some analysts regard as being one-dimensional, referring to Otto Porter being the Hoyas only scoring option, had four players in double figures.
Markel Starks led the onslaught, scoring the Hoyas first 8 points, finishing with a game high of 19 and dished out five assists. Starks wasn't the only sharpshooter for the Hoyas, as the emerging freshman guard, D'Vaun Smith-Rivera went 5-9 from three and finished with 15 points and 5 assists. Defensive specialist Jabril Trawick added 11 points with a game closing, exclamation dunk sending the Hoyas up 20 with :28 second left in the game.
But how about Ottto Porter? The kid who was named one of the fifteen finalists for the Wooden Award prior to the game, honoring the sports best player. Well, that kid didn't score his first field goal until the second half. Porter finished with 10 points, but it's the total package that Porter brought to the table that made Jim Boheim state he'd select the forward with the first pick in the NBA draft.
"Hands down player of the year in the league. I've seen Trey Burke, Oladipo, to me this kids player of the league, player of the country, to me its not even close. To me I'd take him with the first pick (NBA draft). That's the kind of guy you need to have up there," said Coach Boheim.
Porter didn't aggressively look for his shot until the second half, when he began pacing the foul line, moving in the direction of the ball movement. To crack the zone, Starks and Smith-Rivera would feed Porter from the top of the key and find Porter for quick catch-and-shoot jumpers that consistently found its way in the rim.
"They know we wanted to get it into Otto in the middle and they did a good job of not letting us do that. In the second half, collectively we found some ways to get it into him successfully and once that happened we could start picking them apart, " said coach Thompson.
Defensively, the Hoyas mainly played man-to-man defense, occasionally switching to the 2-3 zone. "We were guarding them better in man-to-man then we were in zone so we just stayed in man-to-man. Georgetown defense. Our guys take pride not only in the one-on-one challenge but in that the other four guys have to help in support," coach Thompson said.
Any defense Georgetown put on the floor caused problems for Syracuse, as their 39 points was the least ever under Jim Boheim in his 37 years as head coach. Offensive struggles, shooting 31% and 14 turnovers summarized the Orangemen's offensive output. Michael Carter-Williams was the lone player to score in double figures, making Syracuse look more one-dimensional then the Hoyas who have garnered the "one trick pony" tag.
As the buzzer sounded, elated students rushed the court. An act you rarely see when a higher seed beats a lower seed, especially with an institution as prestigious as Georgetown. But when it's Syracuse, and the rivalry's last chapter has been written it seems fitting. Even if the PA announcer has to remind the student body amidst the post game celebratory pandemonium, "Stay classy, we are Georgetown!"