In a season defined by games when she couldn't make a shot, Brianna Butler redeemed herself with a record-breaking performance on a night when she couldn't miss.
Butler set a new SU record for most career 3-pointers and scored 22 points against Boston College, just one point shy of a season high. She notched six 3's, all in the first half, setting a new program record at 231. Her explosive first half catapulted the Orange in a 73-51 win over the Eagles in the Carrier Dome on Thursday night.
"To have the all-time record as a junior is tremendous," Quentin Hillsman said. "She's going to shatter it because she's going to make a hundred of them next year too."
Syracuse (19-8, 9-5) shot a season-best 48.3 percent as a team and had ten different players score at least once. The No. 25 Orange jumped out to an early 12-2 lead in the first few minutes of the game and never looked back. The only time Syracuse didn't lead was on its first possession after the opening tip. For most of the game, it wasn't close either and the only drama was about Butler's individual achievements.
She came into the game shooting 27.4 percent from behind-the-arc and needed five 3's to break Julie McBride's program record, which was set back in 2004. Butler hit a 3-pointer from the left wing only 13 seconds into the game and the shots just kept falling. From either corner or from the top of the key. With every shot and every clean release, the question quickly changed from whether she would break the record in this game, but when.
Then at the 9:55 mark in the first half, Cornelia Fondren sent a swing pass to Butler, who nailed the 3-pointer that broke a record that even she wasn't aware of. Butler admitted that she didn't know about her achievement until Brittney Sykes brought it up in the locker room during halftime.
"It's pretty cool," Butler said. "I'm definitely honored and blessed to have that school record, but I wouldn't have been able to do it without my teammates and my coaches."
When she broke the record, she had made all seven shots including six 3's and outscored the Eagles by herself, 17-16. It wasn't until the final minute of the first half that Butler missed a shot attempt.
"I'm happy for her because all of her hard work has paid off and all me nagging her," Hillsman said. "Shoot that one too. I think now when you accomplish something and someone's pushing you to do, you feel good about it."
Butler scored only two of her 22 points in the second half but, by then, SU didn't need it. Syracuse came out of intermission on a 23-8 run and took advantage of the mistake prone Eagles. The Orange forced 30 turnovers, its highest total in ACC play and tied for the second most all season.
"There's a reason that's a top 25 team and they played like it tonight," Boston College coach Erik Johnson said. "They deserve to be exactly where they are."
Butler's field goal and 3-point shooting percentages are lower this year than either of her first two years at Syracuse. But she's gotten a recent resurgence of late, scoring at least 14 points in her last four games. And it couldn't come at a better time for the Orange with just two regular season games left.
Said Hillsman, "Hopefully she can keep it going throughout the season."