Back in their Shells - Turtles Crush Orange, 89-64

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The eighth-ranked Maryland Terrapins (17-4, 5-3 ACC) took down the Syracuse Orange (16-6, 5-4) in the Carrier Dome. After upsetting North Carolina last week, Syracuse couldn't pull off an encore performance against another ACC powerhouse.

35,446 fans had gone away.  The College Gameday crew was nowhere to be found.  The press room, which didn't have an empty seat on Saturday night, now had just a slight murmur.

But one result was the same -- the visiting team dazzled the Carrier Dome fans with an amazing three point shooting display.  In this game, the Orange didn't have a response.  It was very hard for the women's basketball team to follow the Instant Classic.  It was even harder, given the quality of the opponent.

The No. 8 Maryland Terrapins shot 59 percent from behind-the-arc, ending the winning streak for the Syracuse Orange at four games.  The Orange lost, 89-64. Maryland point guard Lexie Brown scored a game-high 31 points, despite coming into the day averaging 7.8.

"Lexie played incredible tonight," Quentin Hillsman said.  "She made shots that she hasn’t made all season. But she’s very capable. She’s a very good basketball player and she did everything she could to keep them in the game."

On Thursday, the Orange came back from an 18-point deficit to upset the Tar Heels. Against the Terps, there wasn't any suspense.  Maryland went ahead 10-8 and never trailed the rest of the game.  On Super Bowl Sunday, the Terps made the game into a track meet.  Maryland out-rebounded Syracuse, 37-27, and beat the Orange down the court routinely throughout the game.  It's in part why they were able to shoot 61 percent from the field -- not because their shooters were so accurate, but because their transition offense allowed them to get either uncontested layups or short open jumpers so frequently.

"In the second half, we definitely didn't get back fast enough on defense," freshman center Briana Day said.  "They had too many easy buckets."

Brittney Sykes was one of the few bright spots for SU.  She scored 15 of her 22 points in the second half, which prevented Syracuse from being blown out even more.  About six minutes in the half, she had three straight fastbreak layups in the span of 53 seconds. It cut the Terrapin lead from 29 points to 23.

"It’s usually the first half when I try to survey the floor and figure out in those 20 minutes what I can and can’t do, how I can maneuver throughout the defense and see how they’re playing me," Sykes said.  "So after I realized that, I found out that they weren’t really getting back in transition."

With Sykes reeling off another big second-half performance, the Orange had a small opening to make the game interesting.  Instead, the Terrapins, unlike the Tar Heels, were conservative with the ball and shot a remarkable 69 percent in the latter half.

"You’re not going to beat a team when they shoot 69 percent from the field and you shoot in the thirties," Hillsman said.  "They just didn’t miss many shots."

Brianna Butler, the hero of the previous game, was held to only nine points on 4-20 shooting.  Early on, she did a good job at getting to the rim, but the shots just seemed to be bouncing the wrong way.  As the game progressed, Butler's outside shots were falling short and she looked very tired.  The sophomore guard played 38 minutes, after playing 34 on Thursday night.

"They were definitely playing more aggressive and playing more outside the three-point line," Butler said.  "So it created more of an opportunity to drive, but I just wasn’t able to connect today."

Arguably, the offense relied too heavily on Sykes and Butler.  They combined for about 60 percent on the team's field goal attempts.  Taylor Ford was the only other player to have over four attempts.  At one point with Sykes off-the-court, Butler was the only Syracuse player averaging over 4.0 ppg.  Saddled with two point guards and two players who don't shoot very much, Butler was forced to make every play and take some contested jumpers with the shot clocking running out.  We see this so often with Tyler Ennis.  Turns out, it's not so easy.

Both Hillsman and Sykes acknowledged that fatigue may have had an impact on Syracuse's performance.  But neither used it as an excuse.

Said Sykes, "Playing in the ACC takes a toll on your body, but we have to fight through these tough games."

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