DePaul hands SU women third straight loss

DePaul used hot shooting from beyond the arc to beat Syracuse Wednesday, 77-61, and hand the Orange only their second home loss of the season.

In a span of eight minutes in the opening half, the Syracuse women’s basketball team went from being down nine points to leading by two. During that time, Orange players pounced on loose balls on the ground, snagged rebounds off the glass and scored from all locations on the floor.

Photo: Theodore P. Rysz III
Kayla Alexander rises up for a shot in the second half of Syracuse's 77-61 loss against DePaul.

But it was a tale of two halves for Syracuse against No. 10 DePaul Tuesday night at the Carrier Dome. Although they played some of their best basketball on both ends of the court in the opening half, the Blue Demons stormed back in the second half and trumped Syracuse by a score of 77-61.  

“This hurts as much as any loss I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “I’m very upset at letting this opportunity slip away. I am not happy with the total effort from this team in this game.”

DePaul took the lead in the first half. Throughout the game the Blue Demons passed the ball with ease across the court, often finding a teammate open for a 3-point shot. DePaul shot 56.5 percent from beyond the arc, producing 39 points.

Syracuse normally defends the ball with an unusual 2-3-zone system. It was a setup that was new for DePaul, but the team soon adjusted quickly and exploited the Orange defense.

“When you come against a zone like this, there is a different mindset for your players,” DePaul head coach Doug Bruno. “You don’t score the ball against the zone in the same manner you do against the man.

“I thought we dissected the zone in the second half, while in the first we just threw the ball over the place.”

Down 11-20 midway through the first half, Syracuse’s offense began to hit its stride. It came back to take the lead 21-20 and only trailed DePaul by four points entering halftime. 

“We let our guard down against a group of talented players,” Bruno said. “When you let your guard down against talented players, they are going to come down the court and make good plays against you.”

The Blue Demons quickly ended any momentum Syracuse built in the first half. The Orange shot only 37.5% in the second half, while DePaul continued to hit two-thirds of their 3-point opportunities.

“It’s a real buzz kill being up but then they start to cut the lead,” Syracuse forward Carmen Tyson-Thomas said. “You go into halftime thinking you have it, but when you come back out you don’t have the quick start like you need to. It’s really disappointing.”

DePaul’s leading scorer was sixth-year senior Deirdre Naughton. Naughton missed much of the past two seasons with a torn ACL. She was averaging 22.5 points in her two previous games versus Syracuse. Naughton continued to dominate the Orange, scoring 19 points and scoring 5-of-8 3-point shots Tuesday night.

Along with allowing DePaul open looks at 3-point shots, Syracuse also did not get the offensive production from its top players. Kayla Alexander, the team-leader in scoring with 14.2 points per game, posted only four points for the night. She was largely ineffective from the post, a location she usually dominates.

Iasia Hemingway, who ranks second on the team in points, did not start the game because she missed practice the day before. She responded to her punishment by scoring 14 points, second-best of the team.

“I knew I messed up yesterday, and I just wanted to go out and give my team 100 percent,” the guard said. “I just wanted to come out and give it my all tonight.”

Starting in Hemingway’s place was Tyson-Thomas, usually the team’s sixth woman on the court. Her only other start was also against DePaul last season.

“I knew as a starter I had to produce,” Tyson-Thomas said. “I usually come in to add that extra spark to what we already have going on, or if its not there I add it. But I had to bring it as a frontrunner today.”

With Alexander not producing points, Hillsman turned to Shakeya Leary for offense. The freshman posted 11 points and four rebounds in the first half, playing 15 minutes.

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