Women's Basketball

Syracuse women’s basketball recovers from first-half shooting woes to top Virginia, 54-49

Daily Orange File Photo

Alexis Peterson, the ACC's leading scorer, led Syracuse to its first conference victory of the season on Monday night against Virginia. She scored 21 points.

After falling by 15 points at Louisville on Dec. 29, Syracuse (10-5, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) battled back from an 11-point halftime deficit at the Carrier Dome Monday night to earn its first ACC win of the season, 54-49, over Virginia (11-3, 0-1). The Orange struggled shooting the ball early, but turned the tables in the second half with strong defensive play to pull out a victory.

Though the Orange saw a season-low performance points-wise from guard Brittney Sykes (nine), a strong supporting effort from Alexis Peterson and Briana Day, mixed with a strong defense that was able to hold the Cavaliers to under 50 points, proved to be the difference in SU’s victory.

Syracuse got off to shaky start in the first half, with the team’s highest scorers on the season in Sykes and Peterson posting just six combined points in the first two quarters. The Orange missed its first 22 field goal attempts and its first 11 3-point attempts, carrying an 11-point deficit into the half. SU went just 17-for-81 from the field.

“I heard everyone in the stands yelling, ‘Coach give them a timeout’,” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “But I’m not gonna bail my team out like that. They’re gonna play hard, because that’s what good teams do.”

Down 29-18 entering the second half, the Orange began to turn the pace of the game in the third quarter, slowly chipping at the large Cavalier lead.

Peterson turned on from 3-point range, nailing three of her five 3-point attempts in the second half en route to a team-high 21 points. Peterson also tallied a team-high eight assists in helping the Orange back into the game it had once trailed by 17. Entering Monday, she led the ACC in points per game and ranked second in assists per game.

Sykes failed to produce much more offensively, adding just two field goals in the half and 9 points in the game, her season low.

“Alexis Peterson is all I can say, really,” Hillsman said. “Just an amazing second half from her, she really turned it on.”

Closing in on UVA with a deficit of just two points entering the fourth quarter, a strong finale from Day carried the Orange. She notched three steals, four points and two rebounds in the final 10 minutes as the Orange pulled ahead of the Cavaliers, eventually finding itself up 54-49, where the score would stay.

Julia Chandler added five points on 1-of-5 shooting and Gabby Cooper tallied five points on 2-of-16 shooting.

“We came back and we battled hard and we showed our toughness,” Sykes said. “We knew as a team that we could get it done, we just had to get it done.”

Just one UVA player scored in double digits Monday, with 10 points coming at the hands of center Felicia Aiyeotan. The rest of the Cavalier roster was held below 10 points, yet all but one UVA player scored at least two points.

Though its offense had failed it in the first half, it was a well rounded defensive effort that put the Orange on top as the buzzer sounded at the end of the game. SU forced 27 turnovers, grabbed 54 rebounds (26 of which were offensive) and scored 13 second-chance points.

“I don’t really know how you win a game shooting 9 percent in the first half, but we did it,” Hillsman said.

“It’s unexplainable.”

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