No. 3 UConn 64, No. 22 Syracuse 51
Syracuse is a very good team when Kayla Alexander can stay out
of foul trouble.
The Orange senior scored 14 points, becoming the first player in
school history to reach 2,000 points, and kept 22nd-ranked Syracuse
in the game against No. 3 UConn. She just didn’t have enough help
for the team to pull off the upset as the Orange fell 64-51 in the
Big East tournament semifinals Monday night.
”She’s got to be on the floor for us to have any chance to beat
a team like UConn,” Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman said.
The first time the teams played, Alexander got in foul trouble
and the Huskies went on to a rout. On Monday, she was able to stay
out of it and impressed Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma.
”She’s probably improved more from freshman year to senior year
than any kid in the league,” he said. ”Right now or in recent
memory. I remember her as a freshman. Watching her play her senior
year, she’s put herself in a different situation. In our league, we
have three of the best centers in America and she’s certainly one
of them. I’m not sure you could have said that her freshman and
sophomore year. That shows how much she means to Syracuse’s
The Orange, who hadn’t played UConn this well since 2008, were
able to survive a 9 1/2 minute drought without a field goal.
UConn led 24-18 midway through the first half before Kaleena
Mosqueda-Lewis started a 15-6 run with a 3-pointer. Her second 3 of
the burst made it 32-22. Then, Breanna Stewart took over by scoring
six of the next eight points. Her jumper in the lane made it 39-24
with 2:57 left in the half.
Brittney Sykes’ layup 45 seconds earlier was the last basket the
Orange would get for nearly 9 1/2 minutes spanning the halves.
Surprisingly, Connecticut couldn’t really take advantage, only
scoring seven points in that span. The Huskies kept passing up
shots and turning the ball over at an alarming rate. It got so bad
that at one point Auriemma yelled at his team to ”just shoot the
”I thought we did a really good job in the first half of being
aggressive,” Mosqueda-Lewis said. ”I think we just kind of lost
our flow somewhere. Syracuse just seemed to speed us up. We got out
of our own rhythm. We didn’t have a lot of composure.”
The turnovers allowed the Orange to hang around despite the
Trailing 46-27, Syracuse rallied. Carmen Tyson-Thomas hit two
3-pointers sandwiched around Elashier Hall’s basket. Brianna
Butler’s layup capped a 13-3 run and brought the Orange within
nine. That’s as close as they could get thanks in part because of
the strong play by Stewart.
”It was a point coming into the game,” Hillsman said. ”We
couldn’t have those long droughts where we didn’t score. We had one
and we were stuck down 13 or 14 points for a good while. When we
got them to 10, we just had to get two or three more stops to win
the basketball game.”
Syracuse made it to the semifinals for the first time since
2002. Alexander, who matched her career high with 34 points in the
second round, became the first Syracuse player to reach 2,000
points when she hit a free throw with 1:40 left. She finished the
game with 2,001.
The Orange were playing in their last Big East tournament as
they are headed to the ACC next season. They continued their
struggles against UConn. Syracuse, which was off to its best mark
after 30 games, hasn’t beaten the Huskies since 1996.
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