The Syracuse Orange defeated the Providence Friars 75-59 in the Carrier Dome Saturday afternoon. SU is now a perfect 10-0 this season at home.
Syracuse outscored Providence 34-16 in bench points, in large part due to the return of Carmen Tyson-Thomas. The senior forward returned to her role as the 6th woman for Syracuse after missing a game last week because of a tooth pull. CTT led the Orange in scoring and rebounding (15 and 9, respectively) and had three steals.
“She’s an important part of our success," coach Quentin Hillsman said. "I don’t think anybody in the country has a player that comes off the bench every night and contributes like she does.”
Despite the final score, the result was not inenvitable from the start. With seven minutes left in the first half, Syracuse only led 21-16. The Orange extended the lead by finishing the half on a 19-10 run. SU used its transition offense and aggressive style of play to put away the Friars early on after halftime. About a minute into the second half, Kayla Alexander grabbed a Lacy Hall miss and scored her 10th of 14 total points. The Orange then proceeded to score nine unanswered points to extend the lead to 25.
Kayla Alexander had a strong game for Syracuse after struggling of late. She grabbed seven rebounds, had four blocks, and a steal in 25 minutes. Alexander scored 12+ points in each of Syracuse's first 16 games. But over the last four games, Syracuse's center only averaged 9.25 ppg. Alexander shot only 11-29 (38 percent) during that stretch.
The Friars struggled to score in the paint for most of the game, due to the interior presence of Alexander, the conference leader in blocks.
"I’m just the backline," Alexander said. "So if something happens and someone gets beat, I’m just there to help out my teammates."
Fortunately for Alexander and the Orange, for most of the game, it didn't come down to the last line of the defense. The return of the high-intensity play by Tyson-Thomas ignited Syracuse's already active press defense. Syracuse grabbed a season-high 22 steals and scored 29 points off turnovers. Freshman guard Brittney Sykes may be the player who benefits the most from Syracuse's transition game.
"Brittney Sykes is doing a very good job up top," CTT said. "Even though sometimes she doesn’t get the tip for the steal, when we do get it, she gets the leak out and that turns into a fast transition bucket."
Senior guard Lacy Hall is now just three points away from 1,000 after scoring 11 versus the Friars. Her next chance to reach the milestone is Tuesday as SU travels to Cincinnati to take on the Bearcats.