Syracuse fends off numerous Virginia runs in 70-58 home win

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 11, 2015 at 5:26 pm Contact Paul: [email protected] | @pschweds Virginia’s Faith Randolph knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key much to the dismay of Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman. He responded by yelling “Come on y’all!” at his players for leaving her wide open.Randolph then hit a layup and two free throws to bring the Cavaliers within four with nine minutes left in the first half, the closest they would get for the rest of the game.Every time UVA went on a run to inch closer, the Orange held it off.Syracuse opened up an 18-point halftime lead, and in the second half, as Virginia cut the lead to nine twice, No. 21 SU (11-5, 1-2 Atlantic Coast) didn’t falter en route to what Hillsman said was his team’s best win of the year, a 70-58 victory over the Cavaliers (12-4, 2-1) Sunday afternoon in front of 708 in the Carrier Dome.“We settled down … and did some things to stop the run,” Hillsman said. “That’s something we talked about, too, was making sure we answer runs.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHillsman told his team before the game that it was a must-win after Syracuse lost its first two conference games against No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 13 Duke. Right away, the Orange built an early lead as point guard Alexis Peterson scored 13 of SU’s first 15 points.But Virginia didn’t go away easy and forced Syracuse into 14 second-half turnovers. With a 15-point lead, Peterson chucked the ball out of bounds near the Cavaliers’ bench while trying to break UVA’s press. Brianna Butler committed an offensive foul and Peterson committed another turnover.Virginia was on an 8-0 run, trailing 44-34, forcing Hillsman to call a timeout.“I think the key was just to stay composed,” Peterson said. “Basketball’s a game of runs and they came out, they were hot, they made their run, but we did a good job of just staying composed.When the Orange could feel the Cavaliers creeping up from behind, it went to its bread and butter on offense. SU continued to push the ball in transition and scored more than double Virginia on the fast break.Forward Briana Day attracted two Virginia defenders when she ran the court, opening up shooters on the outside who cashed in. Syracuse shot 47.3 percent from the field and hit 12-of-27 from beyond the arc.“That’s the biggest thing for us,” Hillsman said. “We just want to continue to push tempo and get up and down the floor.”While the Orange stuck to its typical style on offense, it changed its defense. Instead of playing the typical 2-3 zone, Hillsman’s players went into a man-to-man defense, which challenged shooters like Randolph and allowed less opportunities for UVA to effectively penetrate the rim.Time and again, Virginia players went for layups under pressure and shot the ball too hard off the backboard. Though the Cavaliers outscored SU 35-29 in the second half, they couldn’t score enough to legitimately get back in the game.“I think to switch our defense up, it kind of keeps the team on their toes,” Peterson said. “It kind of gives us that edge because they don’t know what we’re going to do.”In the last five minutes, Peterson dribbled the ball in place while waiting for the shot clock to wind down before running the offense to protect the double-digit lead.Compared to its first two conference games, which resulted in losses, the Orange possessed a lead for more than 39 minutes. And despite its attempts, Virginia didn’t seriously threaten Syracuse after the deficit grew to 18 at halftime.“I didn’t even realize we were up by that much,” senior guard Maggie Morrison said. “We were all just working hard, playing hard, and as the lead built, we just kept the momentum going.” Commentslast_img read more