In the past four games, Brianna Butler has scored a total of 27 points – or 6.8 points per game – and Syracuse lost three times.
On Sunday, Butler scored 25 points against the Boston College Eagles. Her resurgence led the Orange to a resounding 71-47 victory over BC. Syracuse improved to 18-8 with only three games left in the regular season. The Orange has a 7-6 record in the ACC and would get a single-round bye in the conference tournament if it started today.
For the second week in a row, Syracuse played a road game on a Sunday. Last week, the Orange faced Notre Dame, who used an impressive display of outside shooting to obliterate Syracuse. But against the Eagles, the road Orange was on the right side of a three-point shooting clinic. In the first half alone, Butler scored 18 points on 6-9 shooting from behind-the-arc.
"For me to come out in this game and score and do this for my team was big," Butler told the ACC Network after the game.
Now, it wasn't a "must-win" for Syracuse. I hate using that term when it doesn't actually apply. Win or lose, Syracuse's season will continue tomorrow and the day after and so on. But even though the game wasn't a "must-win" in a literal sense, it certainly felt like one. Having lost three of the last four games and facing one of the weakest teams in the ACC, Syracuse needed to deliver a strong performance.
The Orange started the game very well and the team's sense of urgency was clear. Butler, in particular, didn't take long to get going. She found an open Shakeya Leary in the post, who scored on Syracuse's first possession. Butler hit her first three only 1:47 into the game, which gave the Orange a 5-2 lead. A few minutes later, she was left open again and didn't miss. Hitting her first shot was a confidence boost and she had the green light to shoot afterwards, Butler said.
By halftime, the Orange held a comfortable 43-25 lead. The team was able to consistently build a comfortable lead throughout the game. That's because Syracuse's combo of full-court press defense and half-court zone defense shot down the Eagles.
"We just had to come out on defense,' Butler said. "We play 2-3. They play 2-3. We just had to come out on their shooters and we did that."
Both teams shot around 46 percent for the game. But the Orange only committed a season low six turnovers, whereas BC had 18. As a result, SU had a 19 more shot attempts in the game.
Brittney Sykes was the main beneficiary of the Orange transition offense. She scored 14 points, had two boards and two steals. It was her 22nd game this year scoring in double-digits. She rebounded pretty nicely from a very quiet performance against Florida State.
The Orange also got a strong game from Rachel Coffey at the point guard position. Coffey missed the last game due to illness, but returned to her starting role with a bang. She had ten points, six assists and four rebounds, while only turning the ball over twice.
Coffey hit a three in the first minute after intermission. It started a 16-3 run in the first 7:19 of the second half, that ended any hope for the Eagles. Including La'Shay Taft, who scored 12 points, the Orange had a balanced attack with four players scoring at least ten points.
Next up for Syracuse is the Miami Hurricanes on Thursday in Florida. The Orange has a 6-17 record against the Canes, but hasn't played them since the '96-97 season.
Here's a video with Coach Quentin Hillsman, courtesy of Brian Higgins and SU Athletics.