Four Syracuse players scored in double figures, the Orange dominated on the glass 46-28 and the relentless pressure defense forced 18 Washington turnovers in Sunday night's 80-59 National Semifinal victory. The win advances SU into the National Championship game for the first time in program history. Waiting for them is former Cicero-North Syracuse star Breeana Stewart and the UConn Huskies.
"Our players did what we asked them to do," head coach Quentin Hillsman said. "They competed at a high level. They pushed the pace, pushed the tempo. And that's the difference in the game. We just wanted to get up and down and play fast. And I thought that we spread them up some in certain instances where we really needed to get the game going, and we got it going pretty good.
"But just happy with the win and happy to be moving on to the championship game."
Chantel Osahor was fresh off of a 24 point, 18 rebound performance in the Elite Eight for Washington. Syracuse held her to just three points on 1-6 shooting. Star point guard Kelsey Plum averages over 26 points and seven assists per game this season as one of the best at her position in the country. The Orange held her to 17 points and three assists on 5-18 shooting.
Washington shot just 38.5% from the floor as Syracuse's aggressive defense dictated tempo and controlled the action throughout.
"We get a lot of energy from that and we pride ourselves on defense," senior guard Brittney Sykes said. "When we can get and get after teams and turn them over, keep them from running their offense, it gives us more momentum to get out run and get in transition."
Syracuse opened up an 18 point advantage with a 21-6 run that spanned from the end of the first quarter into the second quarter. Washington would not get closer than 11 the rest of the night.
The Orange has beaten four of their five NCAA Tournament opponents by at least 17 points.
Briana Day added 15 rebounds inside while Alexis Peterson led Syracuse with 18 points. Brittney Sykes, Brianna Butler and Cornelia Fondren poured in 17, 12 and 10 points respectively.
Butler hit four three-pointers in the game, giving her 128 on the season. That broke the record for most made three-pointers in a single season in women's college basketball history.
Talia Walton of Washington led all scorers with 29 points on 10-15 shooting. She was the only thing keeping the Huskies in the game at times. Walton hit eight of her nine three-point attempts on the night.
The Orange shot 42.3% from the floor overall and actually took 19 more shots than Washington. That was partially due to their dominance on the offensive glass, snatching 17 offensive rebounds.
By advancing to the NCAA Title Game, Syracuse is just the fifth team seeded four or worse to reach that point. If they were to upset Connecticut on Tuesday night, the Orange would become the lowest seed to ever win the championship. That game will start at 8:30pm Eastern.