Third-seeded Kentucky survives Syracuse, 64-59

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 24, 2014 at 9:44 pm •  Published: March 24, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky came up with the big shots and stops to survive Syracuse's upset bid and make it back to the Sweet 16.

Bria Goss was key on both ends as she scored 17 points to help third-seeded Kentucky beat No. 6 seed Syracuse 64-59 on Monday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Goss went 11 of 12 from the foul line as the Wildcats (26-8) ground out a victory two days after beating Wright State by 46 points. Syracuse's physical play and its trademark zone defense had a lot to do with disrupting Kentucky's rhythm and scoring opportunities in a 36-percent shooting performance.

The junior guard made 3 of 7 from the field but got to the four line, determination that Wildcats coach Matthew Mitchell said "helped us a tremendously tonight. On a night where the ball wasn't going into the basket. She had no fear, getting to the rim, getting to the foul line and it really saved the day."

Kentucky offset its offensive struggles with scrappy defense that forced 23 Orange turnovers and held them to 33 percent shooting. It culminated with a victory that moved the Wildcats into the round of 16 against the winner between California and Baylor.

DeNesha Stallworth added 13 points and Kastine Evans 11 for the Wildcats, who scored 21 points off turnovers and outscored the Orange 32-28 in the paint. But Goss' foul shooting symbolized the difference as Kentucky shot 12 more free throws than Syracuse, making 18 of 28 while the Orange were 12 of 16.

"We just had to trust the process and see it through," said Stallworth, who also had six rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Goss added two steals.

Syracuse (23-10) fought hard but couldn't follow up its first-ever NCAA tournament win after losing star guard Brittney Sykes to a right knee injury on Saturday. Brianna Butler had 15 points and Briana Day 13 for the Orange, who got within four with 23 seconds left but failed to get the needed play on offense or defense to draw closer.

"They did a great job of staying poised when we made our run," Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman said. "That's what great teams do. Every time we pushed at them, they made an incredible play to stabilize the run."

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