Syracuse falls short against UConn in BEast semis
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Syracuse is a very good team when Kayla Alexander can stay out of foul trouble.
The Orange senior scored 14 points, becoming the first player in school history to reach 2,000 points, and kept 22nd-ranked Syracuse in the game against No. 3 UConn. She just didn't have enough help for the team to pull off the upset as the Orange fell 64-51 in the Big East tournament semifinals Monday night.
"She's got to be on the floor for us to have any chance to beat a team like UConn," Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman said.
The first time the teams played, Alexander got in foul trouble and the Huskies went on to a rout. On Monday, she was able to stay out of it and impressed Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma.
"She's probably improved more from freshman year to senior year than any kid in the league," he said. "Right now or in recent memory. I remember her as a freshman. Watching her play her senior year, she's put herself in a different situation. In our league, we have three of the best centers in America and she's certainly one of them. I'm not sure you could have said that her freshman and sophomore year. That shows how much she means to Syracuse's program."
The Orange, who hadn't played UConn this well since 2008, were able to survive a 9½ minute drought without a field goal.
UConn led 24-18 midway through the first half before Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis started a 15-6 run with a 3-pointer. Her second 3 of the burst made it 32-22. Then, Breanna Stewart took over by scoring six of the next eight points. Her jumper in the lane made it 39-24 with 2:57 left in the half.
Brittney Sykes' layup 45 seconds earlier was the last basket the Orange would get for nearly 9½ minutes spanning the halves.
Surprisingly, Connecticut couldn't really take advantage, only scoring seven points in that span. The Huskies kept passing up shots and turning the ball over at an alarming rate. It got so bad that at one point Auriemma yelled at his team to "just shoot the ball."
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