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Blown lead against rival Syracuse dooms Georgetown to its first loss

Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown team squandered a late lead against Syracuse. (AP)

Georgetown reacted to a tight game exactly how you’d expect from a program that hadn’t faced a team with a pulse all season.

The previously undefeated Hoyas squandered a seemingly comfortable lead late in regulation and lost 86-79 in overtime to rival Syracuse on Saturday in Washington D.C.

Georgetown led by 13 midway through the second half and by seven with less than three minutes to go, but the Hoyas went ice cold down the stretch. Too many turnovers against the Syracuse press contributed to the late collapse, as did too a stagnant half-court offense whenever opportunities in transition weren’t available.

Syracuse entered Saturday’s game among college basketball’s worst outside shooting teams, but sophomore guard Tyus Battle caught fire just in time against Georgetown’s zone defense. Battle scored a career-high 29 points and buried a flurry of huge 3-pointers, one during the Orange’s 7-0 surge to end regulation and two more to help his team pull away in overtime.

The blown lead will overshadow what was otherwise an encouraging performance from a Georgetown team that had won its previous nine games against the worst non-conference slate in all of college basketball. Only one of the nine teams the Hoyas had beaten was ranked higher than 300th in the KenPom rankings. That’s No. 223 Richmond, which is 2-8 so far this season.

This isn’t expected to be one of Jim Boeheim’s better Syracuse teams, but the Orange represented by far the biggest test Georgetown had faced. Syracuse entered its first road game of the season with an 8-1 record that included victories over Maryland and UConn.

Whether Georgetown’s double-digit second-half lead says more about the Hoyas or the Orange will become clearer in the coming weeks.

Center Jessie Govan further cemented himself as Georgetown’s best player with a 21-point, 8-board performance, while sophomore guard Jagan Mosely came off the bench to provide some much-needed backcourt firepower with 20 points on an array of shots in the lane. Forward Marcus Derrickson was also effective before fouling out late in regulation.

This was Georgetown’s only chance to get a remotely relevant victory before conference play. The Hoyas’ final two non-league opponents are North Texas and Alabama A&M.

Maybe Georgetown’s embarrassing schedule will help a young team build confidence. Maybe the Hoyas needed an early string of cupcakes while they were adjusting to new coach Patrick Ewing’s style.

But it’s hard not to wonder if the Hoyas might have been more successful closing out the Orange on Saturday if this wasn’t their first tight game against a good team.

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Jeff Eisenberg is a college basketball writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!