We’ve mentioned the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team should’ve been seeded higher in the NCAA Tournament, and that getting an 8-seed in UConn’s bracket was unfair to a team that performed far better than that during the regular season.
While that remains true, it also glossed over the mismatch that the seeding created for the ninth-seeded Iowa State Cyclones. ISU was 18-12 on the regular season without much in the way of a marquee resume. Syracuse, 21-10 and 11-5 in the ACC, had a better RPI and competed well in the very difficult ACC.
The uneven nature of the game was obvious from the start on Saturday in Storrs, Conn. Syracuse was up 33-8 in the first, and never looked back. SU beat Iowa State 85-65.
As has been the case for much of the season, Syracuse’s shooting was based on volume, rather than efficiency. They hit 41.8 percent of their shots in the game, but the difference was from three. The Orange were 15-of-29 from distance, while the Cyclones hit just eight on 27 attempts.
Despite some size advantages with for Iowa State, SU still out-rebounded the Cyclones, as Briana Day snagged 13 boards (to pair with five points). Syracuse’s scoring was -- as is typical -- a three-headed monster, this time all dominated by SU’s guard play. Alexis Peterson scored 25, and Gabby Cooper had 24 on 8-of-15 shooting from distance.
But it was Brittney Sykes who truly led the way for the Orange. Her 28 points led all scorers, and she was fairly efficient in the process. The senior was 8-of-19 overall, but 4-of-6 from three, and 8-for-8 from the free throw line. That point total is her third-highest mark this year (she had 29 vs. Miami and 34 against North Carolina).
Next up for Syracuse is the dreaded road matchup with UConn in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies (33-0) beat Albany 116-55 on Saturday while shooting over 62 percent from the field. UConn and Syracuse will tip off on Monday, at a time still TBD. The teams last met in last year’s National Championship, which went to the Huskies.