Syracuse ends losing skid, routs Rutgers

Stifling Orange defense thwarts the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway.

On the heels of an overtime loss to Cincinnati, the Syracuse women's basketball team felt the pressure of falling out of the tournament picture.

Riding a two-game losing skid and having lost 6 of its last 9, the Orange needed a lift.

A defensive-aided takedown worked instead.

Erica Morrow poured in 17 and Nicole Michael added 14 points and 11 boards as Syracuse steamrolled the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at the Louis Brown Athletic Center 76-45. The win improves the Orange to 19-7 overall and 6-7 in the Big East.

SU held the Scarlet Knights to just 15-51 (29%) shooting from the floor and 3-12 from behind the arc. The normally stout 2-3 zone was a step quicker Sunday, closing out on outside shooters and actively breaking up passes inside. The Orange forced a season-high 25 turnovers, 15 of which came in the second half.

The SU defense has steadily progressed over the last three games, lowering its points against totals from 83 to 66 to 45. The dip repositions the Orange as a top 3 defensive unit in the Big East.

Offensively, SU stormed fast out of the gates. Michael and Morrow asserted themselves early, creating an inside-outside dynamic that the Scarlet Knights could not contain. The tandem combined for 13 of the Orange's first 22 points.

Syracuse erased its close-game woes by ensuring the game was never close at all. The Orange jumped out to a quick double digit lead and never looked back. A heavy dose of Michael on the glass and a barrage of outside shooting extended the SU lead to 17 and put the game away by halftime.

The Orange connected on 11 of 24 (46%) three-pointers, topping its single-game, season-high total from behind the arc. Carmen Tyson-Thomas hit all three of her outside attempts off the bench. She finished with 14 points.

RU head coach C. Vivian Stringer returned to the sidelines for the Scarlet Knights after serving a one-game suspension Tuesday for misusing practice players. Stringer was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last September and her 838 victories rank third all-time among women's coaches.

Up next for Syracuse, national superpower Connecticut storms in for a Wednesday bout at the Carrier Dome. The Huskies carry with them a 67-game win streak that spans three seasons including last year's title run. The defending champions are just three wins shy of tying their own mark, 70, for the longest win streak in women's basketball history.



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