When Syracuse has needed a spark on offense season, it's turned to Alexis Peterson.
The sophomore guard leads the Orange in scoring, steals and assists. But for the first game this season, she led Syracuse in three-point shooting. Peterson came into the night with just six 3's on the season, but lifted Syracuse's otherwise tepid outside shooting game by going 4-5 from behind-the-arc.
That performance propelled the Orange to a 70-34 victory against Canisius on Tuesday night, gave No. 19/22 Syracuse its sixth straight home victory and continued what's been a breakout season for Peterson.
With Peterson running the offense, the Orange (8-1) has rolled off three consecutive 20-plus point victories and is playing its best basketball of the season. Now, the team heads south to Florida to face No. 9 Baylor and No. 18 Michigan State in the Sunshine Classic.
"I thought that our entire team played well and I'm just happy with the win," Quentin Hillsman said. "Happy to be moving on and to play two tough teams down in Florida."
Against Canisius, it was another do-it-all night for Peterson, who scored a team-high 19 points to go along with six assists, four rebounds, two steals and just two turnovers. Peterson ran all over the court and, at times, was most effective when she didn't have the ball. She's Syracuse's only player who has more than twice as many assists as turnovers.
"She's done a good job of reading all situations and she just took shots when she was open," Hillsman said. "When they ran out and closed on her, she put the ball on the floor and created opportunities for us and our team. She did an excellent job tonight."
Besides Peterson, Syracuse's leading scorers were Brianna Butler with 15 points and Cornelia Fondren with ten.
Syracuse built a big lead early in the game by rolling off 15 unanswered points in the first half, capped off by one of Peterson's four 3's. She took a pass from Isabella Slim, then squared up and hit from the top of the key, giving her team a 25-5 lead.
Aside from Peterson, the Orange continued to struggle to shoot the three. But it didn't matter too much as the team was able to grab 67 rebounds, which kept the Golden Griffins to one shot on most trips down the floor. Syracuse needed just one more rebound to tie an all-time high of 68 rebounds, a record set back in 1993.
"That was phenomenal," Hillsman said. "Obviously to get 67 rebounds is tremendous. I give our kids a lot of effort for going after every miss and really boxing out and getting on the glass on the defensive end."
Syracuse's leading rebounder this season has been Briana Day, who averages a double-double through nine games. But the leading rebounder on Tuesday was her sister, Bria, who had 11. She hasn't played much this season, but took advantage of her height advantage against the Golden Griffins.
"It's good to have another force coming off the bench that can help you out," Hillsman said. "She did a phenomenal job just going out on the boards and going after every rebound and staying aggressive."
Day grabbed an offensive board in the second half and Syracuse started to circle the ball, left to right, around the perimeter. Fondren took a pass and found Peterson wide open in the right corner. Peterson wouldn't miss and raised her arm after sinking her fourth and final triple of the game.
At that point, Canisius had 17 points, while Peterson had 16.
And, by then, the Orange had another victory locked up.