Coach Quentin Hillsman was hoping for a record-breaking performance by Kayla Alexander and an upset over third ranked UConn. He got neither. Instead it was the star from Syracuse, not on Syracuse, who came out on top.
UConn's freshman Breanna Stewart, of Cicero-North Syracuse High School, scored 20 points to go along with six rebounds. Stewart was the top recruit in the Class of 2012. She grew up watching Syracuse and played with SU's Brittney Sykes on AAU and USA Basketball teams.
"Playing Coach Q and the team is something I've been waiting for this season," Stewart said. "It was a lot of fun."
Alexander entered the game with 1,767 points, just 20 away from Nicole Michael's school record. The senior from Ontario never got close. Alexander picked up two fouls in the first five minutes of the game. She finished the game with four points in only 11 minutes.
Without the team's leading scorer, Syracuse could not keep pace with the uptempo offense from UConn (16-1, 4-1). Losing Alexander's defensive ability may have been just as harmful. She has seven double-doubles on the season and is the school's all-time leader in blocks. Center Stephanie Dolson notched 25 points and seven rebounds for the Huskies.
"It definitely made a difference," Hillsman said on Alexander's limited minutes. "When your best player only plays 11 minutes and takes five shots, that's not good."
The Orange relied on the three point shot to stay in the game, but UConn had an answer for every Syracuse run. About four minutes into the 2nd half, freshman guard Brianna Butler hit threes on consecutive possessions to cut the lead to 14. The Huskies calmly responded with a jumper by Dolson to neutralize any momentum.
Carmen Tyson-Thomas led Syracuse scorers with 12 points. Syracuse is now 15-2. The Orange is back in action next Wednesday at 11:30 A.M. away versus St. John's.