The Seton Hall women's basketball team took a four-hour, 240 mile bus ride up to the Carrier Dome from New Jersey. It turned out it was the girl from Newark who stole the show. Syracuse's Brittney Sykes scored 14 points, had five steals, five rebounds, and three assists as the Syracuse Orange beat the Seton Hall Pirates, 65-34.
Syracuse came into the game with a 41.5 field goal percentage, good for sixth among 15 Big East teams. Against the Pirates, Syracuse came out slow. The Orange only converted three of 14 field goals to start the game. Seven minutes into the game, the Orange only had five points.
Kayla Alexander scored Syracuse's first point on a free throw 31 seconds into the game. From then on, the senior center struggled. Alexander started 0-4 from the floor and did not convert a field goal until there were 47 seconds left in the first half.
With his best scorer struggling, coach Quentin Hillsman decided to go with Shakeya Leary at center. Leary replaced Alexander at the 13:31 mark in the first half and the move quickly paid off. In five first-half minutes, Leary scored four points on 2-2 shooting. She made an even greater impact on the defensive end. The redshirt junior grabbed a jump ball, altered shots in the paint, and tallied five defensive rebounds in the first half.
"Shakeya’s a good player," Hillsman said. "When we got down the stretch and really needed a defensive presence in that paint…we needed a shot blocker."
Syracuse opened up the second half on a 21-4 run. Syracuse leads the conference in steals. SU had 12 steals on the night and continue to turn defense into offense.
Carmen Tyson-Thomas was held out of the game because of a recent tooth removal.
Kayla Alexander was honored by the home crowd in her first home game since breaking the school scoring record. She said she felt blessed, but the record doesn't cross her mind much.
"Maybe it’ll hit me senior night or when the season’s over," she said. "But right now I just want to play basketball."