Defense, rebounding key for Syracuse women against Providence

The No. 24 Syracuse women's basketball team defeated Providence, 75-59, with the help of defense, rebounding, and the return of veteran senior Tyson-Thomas.

The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team combined offensive rebounding and pressure defense to create extra scoring opportunities in a 75-59 win against the Providence Friars (6-15, 1-7) Saturday afternoon at the Carrier Dome. The No. 24 Orange (18-3, 6-2) employed a full court press that helped force 27 turnovers, and the offense gathered 20 offensive rebounds, leading to 18 second-chance points.

Photo: Ziniu Chen
Kayla Alexander (40) goes for a hook shot against Providence College at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y., on Feb 2, 2013. Syracuse Orange defeated the Providence Friars 75-59.

Head coach Quentin Hillsman said he was happy with the overall effort, but the hectic pace Providence provided with its press caused 20 turnovers for the Orange. “At times it got a little sloppy,” he said. “Playing a team that plays fast speeds you up.”

After missing Wednesday’s win against Seton Hall, senior Carmen Tyson-Thomas returned with 15 points to go along with nine rebounds, including six on the offensive end. Hillsman commended her work, especially on the boards. “I thought Carmen did a good job on the glass and getting herself back to the way she was playing after missing last game,” he said.

Hillsman also emphasized Tyson-Thomas’ role as the sixth man. “She’s an important part of our success,” he said. “I don’t think anybody in the country has a player that comes off the bench every night and contributes the way she does.”

Kayla Alexander added 14 points, seven rebounds, and four blocks. “I’m just the back line, so if something happens and someone gets beat I’m just there to help my teammates,” she said of her ability to protect the rim. “That’s my job, and fortunately I was able to do it decently today.”

Defensively, Rachel Coffey and Elashier Hall both had five steals, helping contribute to Syracuse’s 29 points off turnovers. “Lacy is an inside-out player; she’s very consistent in what she does,” Tyson-Thomas said.

The game went back and forth in the early going, but Brittney Sykes’ free throws at the 12:25 mark of the first half put the Orange ahead 10-9, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the way.

Double-digit runs in both halves helped the Orange pull away from the Friars. After a Chanise Baldwin jumper with 8:07 left in the half cut Syracuse’s lead to two, the Orange went on a 10-0 run over the next 2:37 to gain a 28-16 lead. The Orange took a 40-26 lead into halftime, and then opened the second half with an 11-0 run, not allowing a point until 4:30 into the half.

Tyson-Thomas credited the team’s improved effort for the runs. “We picked up the intensity, and coach constantly reminds us that we need to make tougher plays,” she said. “We did what we were supposed to do. When we bring Syracuse basketball to the table, we do very well.”

Going forward, the Orange will play at Cincinnati (8-13, 0-8) on Tuesday, the team’s fourth game in 11 days. “We’re really happy where we are. We have to build on what we learned to get ready for Cincinnati,” Hillsman said. “We have to keep our bodies warm and stay healthy. That’s the most important thing for our team right now.”

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