Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
Syracuse (21-3, 9-2) won its fourth in a row versus Pittsburgh (9-15, 0-11) and extended the current season win streak to five games. With the victory, SU improves to 11-0 at home.
Midway in the first half, Syracuse forward Pachis Roberts dribbled the ball from the left wing to the top of the key. She passed to Kayla Alexander, standing in the middle of the paint with two Pitt defenders nearby. SU's center turned to the basket, expecting contact. Instead, Pittsburgh had a defensive breakdown and Alexander was able to drive to the basket for an uncontested layup to put the Orange up 27-10.
Just a few minutes later, Panthers guard Marquel Davis moved the ball down the court. Brittney Sykes walked up, grabbed the ball right out of her hands, and cruised to the hoop. Her fast break layup put Syracuse up 38-16 at the 3:02 mark.
The Orange went into the half with a 20 point lead and the Panthers weren't able to make it a competitive game thereafter. Sykes and Carmen Tyson-Thomas each had ten points in a balanced offensive effort by Syracuse.
SU outscored Pitt 40-24 in points in the paint. Alexander scored 19 points, had eight rebounds, and seven blocks in just 23 minutes of play. For parts of the game, Alexander was several inches taller than any Pitt player on the court.
Many points in the paint came from easy layups, not SU's inside post game. The Orange had 27 points off turnovers compared to just six by the Panthers. Coach Quentin Hillsman has preached about the importance of turnovers and defense all season and Syracuse put on a clinic in both of those aspects on Saturday.
With a big lead, Hillsman was able to give his starters a rest. Thirteen players came into the game and only Rachel Coffey did not score. However, Syracuse had close to a 3:1 assist to turnover ratio in large part due to Coffey's steady leadership at guard.
"I love it when all of our teammates go out there and show what all of us can do because we have a lot of talent on this team," Alexander said.
After opening the game on a 13-6 run, the Orange didn't score for a four minute stretch. La'Shay Taft (11 points) subbed in and provided a spark for the second game in a row. Taft made an immediate impact by making her first four shots, three of which were from three.
"Taft came in and made shots for us and we need her to do that," Hillsman said. "I always talk to her about she being one of the most talented players that I’ve coached and she is. If we can get her to continue to contribute, we’re going to be a much better basketball team."
Maybe her confidence carried over from the previous game. Or maybe it was her new look.
"Pink is pretty. It felt good wearing pink," Taft joked after the game. "I wish I could wear more."
Syracuse traded in the usual home whites for pink as part of Play 4 Kay Day, a breast cancer initiative at the Dome. There was a season-high attendance of 1,355 at the game.