Rockets edge Orange in overtime thriller

After leading most of the game, Syracuse fell to Toledo in overtime of the quarterfinals of the WNIT Sunday, 71-68. The game was played on the Rockets home floor.

The Syracuse Orange came up just short against the Toledo Rockets in a hard-fought overtime loss in the WNIT quarterfinals, 71-68, to end its 2010-2011 campaign. SU freshman Rachel Coffey attempted an off-balance 3-pointer as time expired, but it rimmed out.

Senior guard Erica Morrow led the charge with 23 points in her last game for the Orange. She played an efficient and poised game, shooting 4-of-5 from 3-point range. She also had zero turnovers despite playing 41 minutes at the point versus the Rockets ball-hawking defense.

Photo: Jamie De Pould
Sophomore guard Elashier Hall shoots over Toledo forward Melissa Goodall during the second half of the WNIT quarter-final in Toledo.

Sophomore center Kayla Alexander added 17 points and eight rebounds. She was a threat every time she touched the ball in the paint, but she struggled to stay on the court because of foul trouble.

The Orange jumped out to a quick start and possessed a 14-4 lead after only seven minutes. Alexander was especially effective inside, as she scored 10 of SU’s first 17 points. However, even with a three-quarter court trap and an aggressive 2-3 zone, Syracuse could not pull away from the Rockets.

Toledo junior guard Naama Shafir kept the Rockets within striking distance. Her activity and vision on the floor was key in the first half, as SU had opened up its lead to as many as nine.

When the Rockets were looking to go on a run at the end of the half, Morrow responded with a surge of her own. She hit 3-pointers on consecutive possessions, and on the ensuing one, was fouled shooting another. Morrow made her three free throws, and the Orange took a 38-26 lead into the break.

Morrow opened up the second half with five quick points, to keep the Orange in control. However, junior forward Lasia Hemingway picked up her third foul just minutes into the second half. She failed to get into a rhythm, and scored only five points in the game. 

Neither the Orange nor the Rockets could make a run until late in the second half when Toledo went on a 16-5 surge behind timely buckets from sophomore center Yolanda Richardson and freshman guard Andola Dortch. The Rockets took a 62-60 lead after a free throw from Richardson with 1:07 remaining.

Sophomore forward Elashier Hall responded with a pull-up jumper to tie the game and force overtime. In the extra period, Morrow fouled out, leaving Syracuse without its primary ball-handler. The loss would come back to haunt SU when Morrow’s replacement, senior guard Tasha Harris, dribbled out of bounds in the backcourt while under duress.

Despite the trouble, SU held 68-67 lead with more than a minute left in the extra period, but the Rockets answered with the last four points of the game to clinch a birth in the semifinals of the WNIT.

Syracuse was unable to make its offensive substitutions in the latter seconds of the game because there was no stoppage of play, and its less experienced line-up could not force another overtime.

“Our kids really competed and played hard,” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said in a postgame radio interview.

Despite the loss, Hillsman had high praise for his seniors after the game.

“They turned this program around,” Hillsman said.

Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.