Late Syracuse Rally not Enough Against WVU

After a pair of losses on the road, the Syracuse women's basketball team returned to the friendly confines of the Carrier Dome. The crowd helped during a late rally, but it wasn't enough against West Virginia on Wednesday.

Despite storming back from being down 16 points, late, Syracuse could not complete the effort.

"It was a tough game," coach Quentin Hillsman said. "We prepared and worked as hard as we can and came up short."

Kayla Alexander was an early force inside for SU, but her 14 points to go along with six rebounds and six blocks - was not enough on Wednesday night, as West Virginia kicked off Big East play with a road win in the Carrier Dome.

Syracuse got 17 points from Carmen Tyson-Thomas and 16 more from Elashier Hall, but the late scoring run was a bit too little, too late in the 26-72 defeat to send SU to a third straight loss after a 6-0 start.

Ayana Dunning was a force at both ends of the floor for WVU (6-2), finishing with 19 points and 15 rebounds. She paced the Mountaineer offense in the first half, while Asya Bussie took care of the scoring in the second.

In a first-half completely dominated by the Mountaineers, free throws kept the Orange within striking distance. The home team was 13 of 14 from the stripe in the opening twenty minutes, enabling them to hang around within a 10-point margin. The outside shooting was spotty at best.

"They are keying in on Kayla (Alexander), sitting in her lap," Tyson-Thomas said. "So we do really have to make shots."

It would get better, but West Virginia got going on an 8-0 run midway through the half and never looked back thanks to back-to-back three-pointers from Brooke Hampton . The conference foe had more than twice the amount of shots at the break to go along with four more conversions from long range than the Orange to make up the 37-29 advantage.

The Mountaineers kept their foot on the gas after the break, going on a 6-0 run to extend the lead to a game-high 12 just two minutes into play. It reached 16 at the 11-minute mark, as Bussie notched another basket plus the foul.

"We just isolated Aysa (Bussie) down on the block, " WVU coach Mike Carey said. "It was on-on-one; there was no help or nothing.

"She can score and has good quickness so we kept going to her."

Bussie was outscoring the Orange by herself at one point while scoring nine straight for the team. She finished the game with 19 points, 17 of which came in the second half.

With nine minutes to play, and the Orange facing a 16-point deficit, coach Hillsman went to the full-court press. It resulted in four straight turnovers forced on the way to an 11-0 run to cut the lead to five points. Tyson-Thomas had seven of the 11 points during the run, getting to the boards in the process before fouling out.

Minutes later, Shanee Williams would hit a three-pointer to get the lead down to two points, the closest the Orange had been since midway through the first half. The margin would be the same with fewer than two minutes to play after Hall sank four straight free throws with the aid of a technical foul. After Williams missed an open shot, the Mountaineers were able to convert inside with Dunning one more time.

That would be it, and the final chance for SU was there from deep.

"We had an open look and just missed it," Hillsman said after witnessing his team shoot 1 of 17 from three-point land. "You can't shoot five percent from three (and win)."

The Orange would foul the rest of the way, but never even the score up despite a valiant effort. The 16-point deficit proved to be just a bit too much to overcome.

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