Sometimes it's good to be old.
The No. 24/22 Syracuse Orange (19-3, 7-2) may have proven that fact in Tuesday night's 72-48 road victory over the Cincinnati Bearcats (8-14, 0-9).
SU has a very bright future in women's basketball. Coach Quentin Hillsman is bringing in the No. 10 recruiting class next year. This year's freshman class was ranked No. 6 by ESPN Hoopgurlz.
But on Wednesday night, Syracuse's starting freshman trio of Brittney Sykes, Brianna Butler, and Cornelia Fondren scored 12 of the team's 72 points. SU's senior trio had 55 of them.
Senior Kayla Alexander scored 23, grabbed nine rebounds, and blocked five shots in a dominating performance.
Senior Elashier Hall tied a career high with 23 points in the game. At the 10:03 mark in the first half, Hall drove to the basket and scored points 1,000 and 1,001 of her career.
Senior Carmen Tyson-Thomas scored nine points in just ten minutes of play. CTT has easily transitioned from a starting role last season to a leadership role from the bench this season.
"Carmen’s been huge for us," Hillsman said Thursday. "And the more she takes on that mentoring role, the better off we’re going to be. We need her to be a great locker room person for us to continue through these games into the postseason."
The Orange used the same winning formula on Tuesday that has worked all season: defense and turnovers. Although Syracuse is middle of the pack in terms of points allowed, that is a reflection of the team's uptempo style of play. On the other hand, SU's defensive field goal percentage came into the game at .348, second in the Big East.
The Bearcats shot .315 from the field against the Orange and only managed 21 second half points. Syracuse leads the conference in steals and added another 12, Tuesday night. The Orange outscored the Bearcats 24-13 in points off turnovers.
Also typical for the Orange was the senior-driven scoring. Despite the youth movement by the Orange, the three seniors are the team's top three scorers. The freshman may get the hype and attention, but the veterans are getting the job done.
Hillsman would not be in the position today to recruit McDonald's All-Americans if it wasn't for the success of his seniors. When Alexander, Hall, and Tyson-Thomas committed to Syracuse, the Orange had losing seasons in six of the last seven years. They came with little pomp or circumstance.
In November of 2008, Syracuse.com's Chris Wagner said of the trio:
Quentin Hillsman's third recruiting class may not be as highly ranked as the past two, but the Syracuse University women's basketball coach is confident the three players will help his program move forward.
The team has made NIT appearances in each of the past three years and seems poised for a NCAA Tournament run this year. In this four year span, Syracuse's senior triumvirate has gone 91-39.
I'd say they've done all right.