SYRACUSE, N.Y. - The Syracuse women’s basketball team’s 72-game non-conference win streak ended with a 54-61 loss to Arizona State Sun Devils. It was a close game all the way and the Orange made several pushes to regain control of the game with nine lead changes, but trailed since 3:31 in the second quarter. Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman felt lucky that the game was so close considering they were outrebounded by 21 boards and only shot two free throws the entire game, compared to Arizona State’s 22 foul shouts and 18 offensive rebounds.
“We as a team need to do a better job of taking care of some of what I call the “big girl” plays,” Hillsman said. “Eighteen offensive rebounds, those are “big girl” plays, you have get those rebounds.”
Sun Devils had junior forward Kelsey Moos back from a four-game injury against the Orange. Moos is second on the team in rebounds. Arizona State head coach Charli Turner Thorne was pleased with her team’s performance despite the 28 turnovers.
“The key was rebounding for us. I would have never predicted if we had this many turnovers that we have actually won the game,” Turner Thorne said.
In the first quarter Arizona State struggled to penetrate the zone and Arizona junior center Quinn Dornstauder had an early frustration foul on offense. Although the Orange were down 9-4 their defense looked like it would be too stifling for the Sun Devils. Syracuse showed its press in the first quarter after a basket by Orange senior guard Cornelia Fondren. Junior guard Alexis Peterson and red-shirt senior guard Maggie Morrison hit back-to-back threes by to put the Orange up 10-9. The Sun Devils answered with a 3-pointer and senior forward Taylor Ford hit a buzzer beater 3 to give the Orange a 13-12 lead going into the second quarter.
The Sun Devils were able to capitalize off poor transition defense from Syracuse full-court press with one basket from Dornstauder and one from Moos putting Arizona State up 16-15.
Red-shirt senior guard Brittney Sykes went down with a right arm injury and was immediately taken to the locker room, but would return to the game before halftime. Both teams were shot-for-shot but Arizona State senior guard Arnecia Hawkins got on the scoreboard with back-to-back threes and a jump shot for eight points in three minutes putting the Sun Devils up 29-26 at halftime.
The Sun Devils set the tone for the second half by breaking the Orange’s press for a layup.
“We knew as the game wears on they [Syracuse] get more and more aggressive,” Turner Thorne said. “We thought we could really be involved and give a little more vertical attack, so we did a pretty good job of that.”
On the next possession Peterson had an offensive foul and the Arizona State bench erupted. Syracuse didn’t get within four points for the rest of the game.
Midway through the third quarter the game was sloppy with turnovers from both teams. Syracuse would finish the game with 20 turnovers. Arizona State had three offensive possessions with two uncontested offensive rebounds to give the Sun Devils 41 seconds without the ball leaving the Orange backcourt.
“They controlled every possession, they controlled tempo,” Hillsman said.
Syracuse is historically strong offensively in the fourth quarter, but they weren’t able to score enough to give themselves the victory. The Orange scored 18 points in the fourth, which was their highest scoring quarter, but the Sun Devils scored 19 points in the fourth.
“We couldn’t score, we were lacking on offense,” senior forward Brianna Butler said. “Our defense, they were getting very easy passes on us down low.”
Butler hit a three with one minute left in the game after the Orange went scoreless for 3.5 minutes, Syracuse trailing 47-55. The Orange had full-court pressure and fouled Arizona State to get the ball back but the Sun Devils hit five free throws in the last 30 seconds to seal the game.
With 47 seconds remaining in the game Alexis Peterson stepped on Arizona State red-shirt senior guard Katie Hempen’s foot and rolled her ankle needing to be helped off the floor. Hillsman is unsure as to the extent of the injury.
Peterson had 15 points and Butler had 13 points for the Orange. Top scorers for Arizona State were Moos with 13 points and Hawkins finished with 12 points and five assists.
The Orange will have a week off before they meet the Jacksonville University Dolphins Monday December 21 at 7 p.m. in the Carrier Dome.