SU women advance to quarterfinals of the WNIT

Syracuse used a late run to pull away from Eastern Michigan Thursday night at the Carrier Dome. With the win, the Orange advance to the quarterfinals and will play at Toledo Sunday.

The Syracuse Orange used a 12-2 run in the final minutes of its third round WNIT game to beat the scrappy Eastern Michigan Eagles. Iasia Hemingway led the way for the Orange with a career-high 29 points in addition to 10 rebounds and five assists.

Photo: Theodore P. Rysz III
Elashier Hall splits the lane to the basket n the first half of Syracuse's 72 - 63 win over Eastern Michigan in the Women's NIT Tournament.

Hemingway often found herself alone in the high-post against the Eagles’ zone and she took advantage of it. She knifed through the defense, found open teammates and drew fouls in what SU head coach Quentin Hillsman called “one of the best performances in the high-post in a long time.”

“She just had her way tonight,” EMU head coach AnnMarie Gilbert said.

Sophomore center Kayla Alexander added 16 points and four blocks and was a huge presence defensively in the paint, for the Orange. Fellow sophomore, Elashier Hall struggled from the field (2-for-11), but compensated by getting 13 rebounds, including three offensive boards on one possession in the final minutes that were exponential in the win.

The Eagles scored the first bucket of the game, but the Orange responded with a 9-0 run to open up a lead in the early minutes. However, the 3-point shooting prowess of EMU guard De’Ja Wills kept her Eagles squad in the game. She scored eight points in just two minutes to keep it close.

SU kept its small lead for the first half and both teams answered each other’s punches. EMU used a variety of full-court pressure to turnover the SU guards. The Eagles had an advantage in that they were quicker and had great anticipation. EMU’s steals and transition lay-ups cut the SU lead to 34-32 at the half.

The second half was more of the same, as SU could not pull away from the Eagles. Each time Hemingway would score a bucket, EMU would answer. Eagles’ junior forward Paige Redditt was effective inside, scoring 22 points and keeping the Eagles close.

SU’s domination on the glass was key. SU outrebounded EMU 44-30. Its 18 offensive rebounds gave the Orange second-chance opportunities that the Eagles were not getting.

However, behind the hot shooting of junior guard Tavelyn James, the Eagles inched closer to the lead, and even tied it up with 9:50 remaining.

Redditt’s quickness in the post was effective against the bigger Alexander. Redditt spearheaded the Eagles into the lead at 61-60 with only 5:16 left in the third-round WNIT matchup.

However, the lead lasted a mere 15 seconds.

After the Eagles took its first lead of the second half, the Orange responded with a 12-2 run, led by the skill and energy of Hemingway. She scored seven points in the final five minutes to will the Orange to victory.

In a game where EMU was the quicker team, it was SU’s hustle and will to win that led it to victory.

“Our team’s heart and effort refused to go home,” Hillman said.

The Orange will travel to Ohio to play in the quarterfinal of the WNIT versus the Toledo Rockets on Sunday, March 27 at 2 p.m.  It will be the Orange’s first away game of post-season play, but SU is still looking forward to the game.

“Regardless of where we at, we just going to play hard,” Hemingway said.

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