USA TODAY Sports
UConn beat Syracuse in the Big East semifinals in front of a pro-Husky crowd in the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. It was SU's 23 consecutive loss to UConn.
Brittney Sykes drove through the left lane and made a reverse layup which gave SU its only lead of the game...
SU gave all it could in the second half, but ultimately the No. 24/21 Syracuse Orange lost 64-51 to the No. 3 UConn Huskies, the second seed in the conference tournament.
UConn held a 38-23 rebounding advantage and shot 52 percent from the field in the first half.
The Orange didn't have much time to enjoy leading the heavily favored Huskies. Kelly Faris had a put-back lay up on UConn's first offensive possession. The Huskies didn't look back.
Coach Quentin Hillsman said before the game, for Syracuse to have a chance at the upset, the Orange had to rely on center Kayla Alexander once again. But when the game started, it appeared that SU forgot the game plan. The Orange seemed content to circulate the ball around the the 3 point line, without a concerted effort to get the ball inside. Alexander only scored 14 points against the Huskies, 20 less than her historic performance the previous night versus Villanova.
She only took four shots in the first half, and for a while, the Orange was able to get away with it, unscathed. Syracuse made four first-half threes to keep the game competitive. Rachel Coffey hit two in a row at the right elbow on consecutive offensive possessions to cut the UConn lead to 17-13. SU was only down two just over seven minutes into the game, but then UConn took control. The Huskies added to their lead by going on a 20-7 run in the next nine minutes and went to the locker room with a 15 point lead.
UConn's Moriah Jefferson hit a 3 pointer open up the second half. The Orange could have doted on the large deficit, but never let the game get out of control.
SU went on a 13-3 run starting at the 14:22 mark with an Alexander lay up. Syracuse's guards were more successful at getting the ball to their center. Although Alexander wasn't able to score many field goals, it slowed the pace of the game and eventually got UConn center Stefanie Dolson in foul trouble.
Syracuse wasn't able to get the score within five points but to their credit, never trailed by more than fifteen points the rest of the way. The Huskies outscore their opponents by about 32 points per game, best in the nation. But on Monday, the Orange was able to keep the game competitive and fare much better than the 87-62 beat down in the previous meeting.
Alexander scored her 2000th career point with 1:40 left in the game. Carmen Tyson-Thomas threw an entry pass to Alexander, who spun to basket, and drew a foul. She made both free throws and reached the milestone on her first attempt.
Lacie Hall scored nine points and had five rebounds. Brianna Butler hit two threes and finished with eight points. For UConn, Kalena Mosqueda-Lewis and Syracuse native Breanna Stewart led with 14 points each.
Connecticut will face Notre Dame in the Big East championship on Tuesday night. SU is projected to be a seven seed in the NCAA Tournament, according to ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme. The Orange can only sit and wait until next Monday when the tournament field is released. Syracuse has not reached the NCAA tournament since the 2007-08 season.