Orange drops Golden Eagles in Play 4 Kay

Center Kayla Alexander leads the Syracuse women's basketball team to a 79-63 victory against Marquette on Saturday while the team supports the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

The Syracuse women's basketball team took a 16-0 run in the second half against Marquette to grab a 79-63 victory in the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon. SU (16-11, 5-8) was led by Kayla Alexander, who dominated throughout the game with 23 points. She was one of four players to score in double figures.

Photo: Allison Milligan

"I told her that she needed to be more aggressive with her shot and get into the paint," said head coach Quentin Hillsman, referring to Alexander.

Hillsman got exactly what he asked for.

Alexander took the ball to the hoop 13 times and was able to convert on 10 of those shots.

The win was critical for SU's hope at capturing a birth in this year's NCAA tournament. It gave them a total record of 16-11 and guaranteed the team an above .500 record.

The team hasn't made the tournament since 2008 but has been in the NIT playoff for the past three seasons.

"This bring us one step closer to the postseason," Hillsman said. "Things have happened where a team has been hot coming into the tournament and done well."

SU didn't start off hot, but they transitioned to a half-court press and their shots started to fall. Marquette scored the game's first six points in the opening of the first half. The run would cause for Hillman to take a timeout, but the Orange responded with six consecutive points of their own. After that, Alexander took over scoring the team's next eight points, giving Syracuse its first lead of the game.

Once the shots started falling for SU, they didn't stop. The Orange shot 54.4 percent from the field, compared to only 38.5 percent for the Golden Eagles.

Using the inside game of Alexander, SU had some open looks from midrange. Elashier Hall took advantage with six midrange jumpers and would finish with a total of 14 points. She also chipped in with a stellar defensive effort. She held the Golden Eagles' point guard to zero points, forced seven turnovers, and had three steals. Carmen Tyson-Thomas provided great production and energy off the bench, with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

SU's best stat might have been on the Golden Eagles' best player, Katherine Plouffe -- who averages 13.9 points per game. Plouffe was relegated to only two points in the first half with four turnovers. Plouffe would finish the game with 10 points, but most of that came when SU had put the game out of reach. 

Iasia Hemingway, the counterpart to the Golden Eagles' best player, came in as a closer in this game. She played 17 minutes in the first half but was banged up and only played the last seven minute of the second half.

"She was banged in this one, and I really didn't want to bring her in until I absolutely had to," said Hillsman.

Hemingway came in when the score was 62-46. The Golden Eagles would cut the lead to 10 before Hemingway retaliated, accounting for eight straight SU points. The Orange would end up finishing on an 11-2 run before it was all said and done. Hemingway finished with 13 points.

The SU players wore pink uniforms to raise breast cancer awareness for the Kay Yow Cancer Fund.

SU will be looking to finish the season on a strong note, starting with its next game against DePaul on Tuesday night.

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