The Syracuse Orange (7-0) continued a dominating start to the season by beating the Memphis Tigers 77-58 on Friday night in the UVI Sports and Fitness Center in St. Thomas. In the Paradise Jam tournament, the Orange is now 2-0 including a victory over Texas on Thanksgiving night.
Brianna Butler tied her career high with 23 points against Memphis, leading all scorers. Other offensive leaders for Syracuse included Brittney Sykes, who had 18 points; Taylor Ford, who scored 10 points and Shakeya Leary with 9.
Despite jumping out to an early six point lead, Memphis trailed for almost all of the game. Ford hit a three at the 13:58 mark in the first half. The Orange went up 13-10 and led the rest of the way.
Butler shot 5-7 from three-point range. After a sluggish start to the season, it looks as if she's developed into the outside shooting threat that coach Quentin Hillsman was hoping for.
Syracuse went into the locker room with a 45-30 lead. Memphis narrowed the deficit to 11 points a few minutes into the second half. But Butler and freshman Briana Day took control, scoring the game's next 13 points by themselves. Sykes converted a layup to complete the 15-0 run, which put the game well out of reach. The Tigers were never able to get the game within a few positions thereafter.
Sykes continued her streak of scoring at least 15 points in every game this season. Along with 18 points, she tallied six rebounds and five assists. Senior center Shakeya Leary came just short of another double-double. Leary had nine points and 12 rebounds. Syracuse dominated Memphis in rebounds and points in the paint, in large part because of Leary's effort.
The Syracuse press defense limited Memphis to 38 percent shooting. The Orange forced 21 turnovers, which led to 26 points.
On Saturday, the Orange takes on the Texas A&M Aggies, who are ranked No. 12 in the AP Poll. A Syracuse win would clinch a title in the Paradise Jam's Reef Division. You can find a live stream at ParadiseJam.com.