Behind career-high 31 points from Day, Syracuse women's basketball tops Pittsburgh

Orange extends its winning streak to three with victory over Panthers at the Carrier Dome.

Led by a career-high 31 points from Briana Day, the Syracuse women’s basketball team (16-7, 6-3 in ACC) beat Pittsburgh (12-10, 3-5 in ACC) 93-65 on Thursday night in the Carrier Dome.

Syracuse entered the game on a two-game win streak, most recently winning at Virginia Tech, 82-72. Undefeated so far at the Carrier Dome this season and on a 16-game home winning streak, their opponents had yet to win a true road game in 2016-17.

Photo: Flora Chen
Syracuse University's Alexis Peterson drives to the net against Pittsburgh on Thursday. SU topped the Panthers, 93-65.

Before the game, Day was recognized for becoming Syracuse’s career leader in rebounds, but it would be her scoring that would set her apart in this contest.

Pittsburgh started the game hot, shooting 70 percent from the field in the first quarter while not missing a shot in the first seven minutes. However, Syracuse stayed right with them. The Orange shot 6-of-11 from behind the 3-point line and recorded four offensive rebounds in the quarter.

Syracuse started off the second period fast, going on a 21-8 run to extend its lead to 38-27. A lot of Syracuse’s productivity came from the offensive glass, where it had nine offensive rebounds to Pittsburgh’s zero. Syracuse outrebounded Pittsburgh, 18-11, in the first half.

The second quarter ended 42-36 in favor of Syracuse, despite SU’s inferior field goal percentage. Pittsburgh shot 62.5 percent from the field, much higher than Syracuse’s 44.1 percent. Another large difference in the statistics was the 3-point shooting percentage, where Pittsburgh was 5-of-8 from behind the arc, much higher than Syracuse’s 3-of-14.

Syracuse started the third quarter pressing Pittsburgh in both the front and backcourt, causing seven Pitt turnovers. SU stormed to a 24-3 run in the first six minutes following halftime and increased its lead to 66-39.

Day eclipsed her career high point total with 2:19 left in the third quarter. Syracuse outscored Pittsburgh 32-13 in the period and led 74-49 heading into the fourth.

Day scored the first four points of the fourth quarter and the Syracuse defense didn’t allow Pittsburgh to penetrate, forcing them to shoot from distance with limited success.

Syracuse guard Gabrielle Cooper hit two 3-pointers within two minutes of each other, both off assists from Alexis Peterson. Syracuse continued to pass the ball fluidly, looking for an open opportunity with Day open underneath for the rebound in case of a missed shot. Pittsburgh’s Brenna Wise and Jasmine Whitney both fouled out during the fourth quarter.

Day grabbed 14 rebounds to go along with her 31 points and left the court to a standing ovation from the crowd. Orange guard Brittney Sykes added 25 points, while Cooper chipped in 15.

Peterson joined them in double-figures with 10 points. She also dished out seven assists and recorded five steals

Pittsburgh head coach Susie McConnell-Serio looked positively at her team’s performance, as the Panthers led in both field goal and 3-point shooting percentages. However, their inability to play a full game continued to be a problem and the third quarter was the rough patch for the team, she said.

Despite a lot of focus being on the Sykes and Peterson duo, Sykes said that it is a team effort.

 “[We] can’t be the best backcourt in the country without the team,” Sykes said.

Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman spoke highly of the team’s overall performance, especially in the first half.

“Everything around us is getting better,” Hillsman said.

Hillsman noted how difficult it was to defend Day and that she would remain essential on the court as long as she remained out of foul trouble.

Syracuse will return to action when it travels to face Boston College on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Orange defeated BC, 79-52, on Jan. 8. 

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.