Orange hold on to win season opener against Washington State

The SU women's basketball team almost let the game slip through its fingers, but strong performances by Brittney Sykes and Shakeya Leary helped the Orange win.

In the closing moments of the second half, Washington State erased the Syracuse women’s basketball team’s 11-point cushion and was in striking distance with only 42 seconds left on the clock.

But sophomore guard Brittney Sykes reeled in her first steal of the game and took it to the other end for a layup to push the Orange up four.

Sykes finished the game with 16 points, and five rebounds. Her 30-minute contribution helped the Orange (1-0) squeak out a 69-65 win over the Cougars (0-1) at Beasley Coliseum in its season opener.

Sykes picked up from where she left off last year as a contributor, shooting at an improved 58.3 percent when the team shot just 36 percent. Syracuse and WSU struggled offensively, but the Orange managed to go up by as much as 11 as the Cougars missed 10 of its first half three-point attempts.

For what Syracuse couldn’t pull out on offense it translated to other parts of its game. The Orange matched its last season high of 61 rebounds against WSU, a large portion of them reeled in by senior Shakeya Leary.

Leary finished the game with 16 rebounds and 21 points, recording only her second career double-double. This also marked Leary’s second career start, as she spent most of her time playing behind first round WNBA draft pick and all-time SU scoring leader Kayla Alexander.

Leary finished the game on 8-of-15 shooting with six big points coming late in the second half that featured 15 different lead changes. The Orange will return home for its home opener Thursday against Dartmouth.

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