SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- When Syracuse guard Brittney Sykes went into the locker room with a bloody nose, less than two minutes into the start of the game on Monday night, Siena took full advantage of her absence. The Saints jumped out to an early 12-6 lead and for a moment, they had the Orange on its heels. For a moment it seemed as if Siena would be able to compete with 14th-ranked Syracuse. But in typical Syracuse fashion, they went on a run sparked by an aggressive defense.
After a slow start, Syracuse (2-0) limited Siena (0-1) to just nine points in the second quarter en route to a 102-65 win.
“We came out, we were flat and just one of those things where we knew we had to pick our energy up and just play hard,” coach Quentin Hillsman said. “And that was the deal. I didn’t think we were playing hard enough in the start of the game.”
The Orange ended the first quarter tied with Siena 20-20, and adjusted in the second quarter. The Saints could not respond to Syracuse’s extended defensive pressure in and converted on just one field goal.
"We were trying to come out and play some zone pressure, see what kind of press break they were going to run, Hillsman said.
“It’s tough when you start a game, you don't want to jump out there too early, then they start throwing the ball over the top and you're not sure exactly what they're running in a press offense.''
All five of Syracuse’s starters – Briana Day (19 points, 9 rebounds), Alexis Peterson (19 points, 10 assists), Isabella Slim (16 points, 11 rebounds), Brittney Sykes (18 points, 5 rebounds) and Gabby Cooper (11 points, 4 rebounds) – reached double digits.
Day was much more active in the paint than her first game against Rhode Island. Not only does her length cause problems for opposing players, but the 6-foot-4 senior took four charges in the game.
"Just being disciplined. Just knowing that we're down a post player, so just knowing I can't get those fouls or go for blocks right now,'' Day said. "It's just better to take a charge, too. They lose the ball and the player gets the foul.”
Day’s willingness to sacrifice her body forced Sienna’s guards to hesitate from going inside.
“We want to attack all the time and when you start picking a couple of charges here and there, you might put in the back of your heard that it might not be there,” Siena’s head coach Ali Jaques said.
Despite the loss, Jaques was please with her team’s ability to put up 65 points against a tough team in Syracuse.
“I’m really, really proud of our team right now. We just went toe-to-toe with one of the best defenses in the country, if not the best defensive team in the country.”
Bria Day did not participate in pre-game warm ups. Day is still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery. Coach Hllsman said he doesn’t want to rush the back-up center. There’s no timetable for her return.