No. 18 SU wins sixth straight after win over Rutgers

The Syracuse women's basketball team knocked off Rutgers 58-45 for its sixth straight victory and best record in program history.

With less than a minute left in the half, junior Rachel Coffey pulled up for a three and, like her previous three attempts, this one did not fall.

“First half I was frustrated I didn’t make any shots, I knew I had to do something to come up big” Coffey said. “I had no assists I had to do something on the court so I made shots.”

Going into the half, Rutgers (14-11, 5-7) was up by four and outplaying No. 18 Syracuse (22-3, 10-2) at home. The score was 19-15. The Orange turned the ball over 14 times to start the half, five of which coming from junior Rachel Coffey. 

But by the end of the game, Coffey scored a season-high 17 points, helping the Orange win 58-45. This was Syracuse’s sixth straight win and its best record in program history.

Both teams defenses dominated the first half but in the closing minutes of the half Rutgers fast breaks gave them cushion as they went into the half.

“Rutgers has always been a team that stepped up their pressure against us,” head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “Halftime in the locker room I just went down a row and told each player you're not doing this you’re not doing that and its up to you. “

At the start of the second half Syracuse continued to apply defensive pressure forcing a Scarlet Knight turnover on its first possession. They began to double up on defense to slow down the pace of the game, especially on Rutgers’ Monique Oliver. Oliver notched 12 points and 13 rebounds in the first half, but was held off in the second half by senior center Kayla Alexander.

“The second half I think it was Kayla, she had 6-foot-5-inch player standing inside with her.,” Hillsman said. “It's a big difference when you have a shot blocker and big rebounder standing in front of you.”

Only playing for five minutes in the first half due to early foul trouble, Alexander came back out in the second half and gave Syracuse a good size advantage. She finished the night with seven points, five offensive rebounds, and three blocks Alexander said she always had confidence in the team, even when she was not in the game.

“It always sucks getting two quick ones,” Alexander said. “At the same time our bench is deep so any other person can step up and play.”

Coffey and freshman Brianna Butler did step up. Butler made three after three, sparking an 11-0 run for the Orange. She finished the game with nine points. Coffey capped the run with two back-to-back threes in the final minutes of regulation, giving the Orange the final push to victory.

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