Syracuse took out number 10 Florida State on Senior Night

Behind a big night from the seniors, Syracuse took out number 10 Florida State on Senior Night

When they got to Syracuse, the goal was to reach .500.

"There was a time we wanted to be .500, we didn't want to have a losing season," head coach Quinten Hillsman said. "The goals have changed and I think as this program has grown. The seniors have gone a long way to help us."

The perception behind Syracuse women's basketball has changed, and the class of 2016 is a big reason why.

On their Senior Night, Brianna Butler, Brittney Sykes, Taylor Ford, Cornelia Fonderen and Maggie Morrison led No. 18 Syracuse to what might be their biggest win of the season, 83-73 over No. 10 Florida State.

The win was the seventh straight for the Orange, who improved to 21-6,11-3 in conference play. Florida State fell to 21-5, 11-2 in ACC.

An emotional night with the seniors being honored in a pregame ceremony, Syracuse came out strong and fast, racing to an 8-2 lead two and a half minutes into the game behind two Butler three-pointers, something the Orange faithful have grown accustomed to seeing in her four years, having knocked down 334 coming into tonight. She finished with 16 points with four three's. 

"Coming into your Senior Night, its your last time playing in the Dome," Butler said. :You really just want to leave on a good note. After I hit my first three, I was feeling it after that. My teammates did a good job of finding me."

Coming into the game, the Seminoles had won 11 straight games and hadn't lost since their first ACC game of the season. Florida State head coach Sue Semrau had only praise to give the Orange.

"I have to commend coach Hillsman for a job well done keeping them emotionally ready for tonight," she said. "Senior nights are emotional and can be either really good or really bad."

The Orange didn't take their foot off the gas, stretching their lead to 26-16 by the end of the first quarter, using a 12-3 run to close out the quarter to get there.

Florida State mounted a furious comeback in the second quarter, clearly upset with their play to open the game, even tying the game up at 31, but the 'Noles were never quiet able to take the lead. They had chances in the closing seconds of the half, but poor free throw shooting and turnovers killed Florida State. At the half, Florida State was just 6-13 from the line and already had 14 turnovers. 

The second half was more of the same, with the Syracuse lead growing to as many as 15. Even though the Seminoles were able to cut it down to three a couple of times, the Orange were able to knock down enough shots to keep the game out of reach of the Semionles. 

A big reason for the second half surge was Ford, who finished wiht 15 points, all three's, nine points coming in the second half.

"Taylor is a very good basketball player and when she takes open shots and she's shooting the ball with confidence, she's a very good basketball player, so I'm never surprised when she has a great game," Hillsman said. "Tonight, she stepped out and did. She made open shots. She crashed the boards. She got back in transition. That's all you can ask for.

"I didn't cry or anything, so I think instead of my sentimental emotions, my aggressive emotions came out," Ford said. "Once I hit the first one, I just felt really, really confident, so that's what did it. I'm probably going to cry when I get home."

Fonderen did a little of everything, finishing with nine points, seven rebounds, six steals and five assists. Morrison registered just three points in 10 minutes.

Florida State's Adut Bulgak led all scorers with 23 points. Shakayla Thomas added 19 points for the Seminoles.

Alexis Peterson led Syracuse with 17 points.

Sykes finished with 15 points, but she was more proud of the defensive effort of the team. While sitting in the postgame press conference, her eyes lit up and leaned over to Ford to point something out on the stat sheet.

"They had 28 turnovers. That allowed us to get 83 points," Sykes said. She even went so far as to say she felt sorry for Florida State that they had to come to the Dome.

"It sucks you know, to lose. But we can't feel sorry for them now. It's on to the next one."

That's the determination that has made this a special senior class. The determination to get better and be better. They want to win. They want to play the tough opponents. 

Now they've shown they can beat them. Just getting to .500 isn't enough anymore. Now they want to win.


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