SU adjusts offensively, coasts to blowout win over Albany

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on December 6, 2010 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: [email protected] | @mark_cooperjr Commentscenter_img The objective was to get Iasia Hemingway the ball in the high post. Syracuse’s offense usually runs through her at that spot. She usually feeds Kayla Alexander down low or drives to the basket herself. But not Monday night. Albany took it away. Pass after pass from Hemingway to Alexander was picked off by a persistent double team. The Great Danes’ defensive game plan was working: SU’s lead was cut to three points early in the second half. ‘It actually bothered me a lot,’ SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said. ‘Because we have to be able to get the ball anytime we want to and when we need to.’ Syracuse adjusted by putting two players on the low blocks, taking away the double team on Alexander. That, combined with strong play at the point by Tasha Harris and Erica Morrow, led to a 25-0 SU run and a 69-38 Orange victory Monday night in front of 1,023 fans in the Carrier Dome. Syracuse overcame a shoddy first half offensively by making the right adjustment, and the Orange is now 7-0 for the second consecutive season. Kayla Alexander led the way with 15 points and a career-high 19 rebounds. Thirteen points and 12 rebounds came in the second half.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text ‘It was Kayla,’ Hillsman said. ‘I really do (think she was the difference). She took the game over because she really started to impose her will on the floor.’ With Syracuse’s go-to play becoming ineffective, the Orange had to find other ways to score. Harris, who entered Monday averaging fewer than five assists per game, tied her season-high with seven, while also tying a season-high with eight points. She became the new way to feed the ball inside to Alexander. Harris pushed the ball up the floor at every opportunity and fed Alexander running the floor up ahead of her. Alexander made 5-of-7 shots from the floor in the second half after a 0-for-4 shooting performance in the first half. ‘We were just going up stronger and more focused,’ Alexander said. ‘Not rushing our shots.’ Harris’ ability to feed the ball inside on inbounds passes under SU’s hoop also keyed Syracuse’s rally. The senior point guard set up seven of SU’s 25 points during its big run on inbounds passes. She consistently found Alexander or Hemingway cutting through the lane for a layup. At the very least, they got to the free-throw line. From there, Alexander converts at a 79 percent clip for the season. Albany (6-2) fouled SU only five times in the first half but 11 times in the final 20 minutes. Those are assists that don’t show up in the stat sheet as Harris’ contribution. ‘Tasha makes great passes,’ Alexander said. ‘And I happen to cut hard, had good hands to get possession and was able to finish.’ Hillsman said he was really proud of the way his team fought in the second half. Hemingway finding Alexander down low from the high post was a near-unstoppable combination for the first six games, but Albany combated it. The coach drew up different ways of getting the ball to Alexander. Syracuse took advantage of a team whose starting center is three inches shorter than Alexander. It outrebounded Albany by 28 in the second half. Hemingway wasn’t forgotten, either. She didn’t record a field-goal attempt or a rebound in the first half, but she put up eight points and six boards after halftime. And when she got the ball at the high post in the second half, she looked away from Alexander to find open players. ‘I was thinking too much today about where to pass it,’ Hemingway said. ‘And like Coach said, sometimes I was wide open, and I wouldn’t even look at my shot.’ Hillsman said he knew SU had to play well Monday because it could have been a trap game. An Albany team that came to play ‘with a lot of confidence’ was the only thing separating Syracuse from its first real test of the season Saturday against No. 6 Ohio State. But Syracuse prevailed, despite its worst offensive struggle of the season. Despite the key that ignites the offense — Hemingway at the high post — being taken away. The Orange overcame its first offensive controversy and found a way to win. Said Hillsman: ‘We’re just very excited to be at this point, 7-0.’ [email protected]last_img read more