WBB : SU plays inspired 1st half in loss to Connecticut

first_img Published on January 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Ryne: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+ Before Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis could finish her wide-open drive to the basket, Syracuse’s Iasia Hemingway slid over from the opposite block and met her just outside the lane. The Connecticut forward bowled over Hemingway, drawing an offensive foul.The hustle play by Hemingway protected a tied score more than 10 minutes into the game and ignited a fire in her Syracuse teammates. Elashier Hall let out a jolting scream and vigorously pumped her fist as she and the entire Orange lineup greeted Hemingway under the rim.‘I just try to bring positive energy,’ Hemingway said. ‘Even if it’s the little things like taking a charge or getting a stop, you got to really be excited because when you’re excited, it brings everybody excitement.’The excitement for Syracuse (13-8, 2-5 Big East) was warranted as the Orange stuck with No. 3 UConn (18-2, 7-1) for the first 20 minutes Wednesday night. In front of a record home crowd, SU came out energized and thinking upset against the vaunted Huskies. Connecticut only managed a seven-point lead at halftime, but broke the game open in the second half to blow the Orange away 95-54 in the Carrier Dome.Syracuse used an efficient performance on offense and kept the Huskies out of rhythm with its full-court press. UConn came into the game riding a five-game win streak in which they outscored their opponents by an average of 44.4 points.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange came out determined to keep Connecticut from running away with another victory.‘We had the mindset, and we always do in the first half,’ SU guard Carmen Tyson-Thomas said. ‘We got to jump out first, whoever gets the first lick first. And we came out with a lot of energy and intensity and effort, and we had a goal, and we wanted to win, of course.’Hemingway ensured Syracuse kept that mindset in the first half, setting the tone on offense right out of the gates.The Syracuse forward scored the Orange’s first six points, all coming off aggressive drives down the right side of the lane from the right wing.Two minutes in, SU was up four and playing with confidence.‘At the start of the game we understood what we had to do,’ Hillsman said. ‘And we just really needed to get the ball to Iasia and to the 14-foot range and get some straight line drives, and that’s what we did.’With Connecticut soon keying on Hemingway, opportunities opened up for her teammates.Syracuse maintained a 9-6 lead more than four minutes in when Hemingway rolled down the lane to receive an inbounds pass. She was immediately draped past two Huskies and fell to the ground as a result of the suffocating defense. But as she lost her balance, Hemingway hit SU center Kayla Alexander in the middle of the paint for a short jumper.Connecticut seized the lead for good with 6:25 remaining in the half, but Syracuse kept fighting.Down 10 with less than a minute on the clock, Tyson-Thomas grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw over UConn guard Bria Hartley and kicked it out to Coffey for a wide-open 3 from the left wing.The point guard drilled it, bringing the entire SU bench to its feet as it was within striking distance heading into the half.‘We were positive. We wanted to come back out with the same mentality we had in the first half,’ Tyson-Thomas said. ‘We went in the locker room and said the same things that we did at the start of the game. We wanted to continue doing what we were doing.’But Syracuse couldn’t keep it going in the second half. The Huskies hit three 3-pointers to open up a 17-point lead less than three minutes into the half.Hillsman saw it slipping away and tried to salvage the game with two timeouts. But he knew after Hartley put the Huskies up by 13 that the game was over. He jumped out of his crouch to signal for the first timeout before walking out to the paint and clapping his hands twice in a sign of his frustration.And by the time Hillsman stepped to the podium after the game, that positive energy from the first half disappeared in a humbling 41-point loss.‘We don’t take moral victories here,’ Hillsman said. ‘We lost the game. We lost the game big.’[email protected]center_img Commentslast_img