Syracuse relents 2nd-half lead, falls short of upsetting No. 1 South Carolina in Bahamas

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 28, 2014 at 11:43 pm Contact Josh: [email protected] Syracuse’s 2-3 zone packed inside the paint, sometimes without a player above the free-throw line. All game long, No. 22 SU dared No. 1 South Carolina to shoot from the perimeter.Late in the second half, the Orange led by one, and the Gamecocks had shot just 8-of-25 from beyond the arc. But with just over three minutes to go in regulation, South Carolina’s Asia Dozier hit a 3 to give the Gamecocks their first lead of the second half.After Dozier’s dagger, the Gamecocks (4-0) pulled away, edging the Orange with a last-minute, 67-63 victory in Friday’s championship game of the Junkanoo Jam in Freeport, Bahamas. The Orange (4-1), though, led by 10 with seven minutes to go in regulation and was minutes away from unseating the nation’s top team.SU’s Brianna Butler scored 18 points and center Briana Day went for 13 points with 17 rebounds, but neither effort was enough in the end.“South Carolina made a couple of plays down the stretch and won the game,” Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “But we really competed at a high level.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“… We came here to win this, and we knew we had a great game plan… We’re a top-25 basketball team and had an opportunity to beat the No. 1 team in the country. You’ve got to get that done.”Although the Gamecocks ran out to a 10-3 lead, both sides exchanged leads a couple of times. Syracuse pulled off a 25-3 run of its own and point guard Alexis Peterson hit a circus layup at the buzzer to give the Orange a 35-31 lead at the half. It was the first time since 2008 against Connecticut in which the Orange led a No. 1 team at halftime.Syracuse’s Isabella Slim hit a 3-pointer to give the Orange a 40-36 lead four minutes into the second half, and everything seemed to go right for the Orange. Butler then hit a pair of 3s to keep the Orange ahead, 46-41 with 12:18 to go.Despite the Gamecocks’ lineup of three players 6 feet, 4 inches and taller, the second half belonged to Day, who scored seven of her 13 points to extend SU’s lead to 51-46.“She was the reason why we were in that game,” Hillsman said. “She was doing a great job inside.”The Orange led by as many as 10 in the second half. But a combination of Tina Roy 3s and shots from Tiffany Mitchell and A’ja Wilson lead to South Carolina taking its first lead of the second half, 60-59, with Dozier’s 3-pointer with 3:35 left in the game. Dozier canned another 3, a layup by Roy and a pair of Mitchell free throws iced the win for South Carolina.Last January, Syracuse upset No. 6 North Carolina on the road, 78-73 — a win Hillsman, at the time, called the biggest victory in program history. On Friday night in the Bahamas, Syracuse was minutes away from handing that distinction to a new game, but fell a bit short.“All of our kids played at a high level, which I’m really proud of,” Hillsman said. “But give South Carolina credit, they’re the No. 1 team in the country for a reason.” Commentslast_img

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