Coach Quentin Hillsman was not joking around this offseason when he claimed that the Syracuse Orange would continue to shoot a huge volume of three-pointers, particularly through Brianna Butler. The Orange shot 34 three-pointers Friday against the Rhode Island Rams, hitting 10 of them; a 29.4% shooting percentage. The Orange only shot 28 two-point field goals, in which they hit 10. Still, it was just enough to eek out a 57-54 victory to open the season.
The Orange found themselves down five points at the end of the 3rd, and down seven points early in the 4th, but came back strong to win. It was a real team effort to come back. A great defense and a persistent offense, helped the Orange pull it off.
Alexis Peterson set a program record with 10 steals in a single game. She dominated the first half with eight of those. She added four rebounds and eight assists on her huge night.
The defense overall was great, forcing 24 turnovers, 16 of them steals. Most importantly, the Orange held the rams to a total of eight points in the 4th quarter.
Briana Day played masterfully as well, putting up 14 points, 9 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Additionally she had a clutch steal, rebound, and block within the final two minutes of the game, sealing the win for SU.
Brittney Sykes returned from her nearly year long absence due to a torn ACL. She seemed not to be on limited minutes, playing in 29 of them. While her numbers were not great, shooting 1-12 from the field, it was great to see Sykes back in action. It will definitely take some time for Sykes to get back to a level where she was highly productive, before the ACL tear. However, when she is back and playing like her old self, the Orange will have lots of offensive weapons to work with.
While there are definitely areas of improvement, the Orange show a lot of potential. Once freshman players Abby Grant, Jade Phillips, Julia Chandler and others gain some experience they will surely be helpful coming off the bench. This is potentially a very deep team with lots of veteran experience.