WBB : Second-half defensive pressure leads Syracuse past Lafayette

first_imgEight seconds into the second half, Elashier Hall drained a 3-pointer from the right wing. Moments later, she ripped the ball away from Lafayette forward Sarah McGorry in the backcourt, displaying an aggression Syracuse lacked defensively in the first half.On the Leopards’ next possession down the court, Phylesha Bullard forced another steal. And after Hall finished a layup following the turnover, Lafayette burned a timeout to regroup just 44 seconds into the half.‘We always talk about the first five minutes of the second half,’ SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said. ‘I think the first five minutes always tells the tale. The first five minutes, I think we were up 10, 12 points.’Syracuse (3-0) used an inspired defensive effort in the second half to pull away from  Lafayette (0-3) for a 74-54 win on Saturday in the Carrier Dome. The Orange went into halftime with a one-point lead after a suspect performance on the defensive end. Syracuse’s full-court press and 2-3 zone were both easily broken by the Leopards in the first 20 minutes, but the team made adjustments at halftime and cruised to victory in the second half.For Hillsman, though, the first half performance was disappointing.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWith SU leading just 31-30 at halftime, the head coach quickly let his players know he wasn’t pleased with their effort. He then left the locker room to let them discuss their lackluster performance.‘I challenged them. I really got on them. I told them, I said, ‘We’re not doing the things that we do,” Hillsman said. ‘I walked out of the locker room and said, ‘You guys figure it out.”Before halftime, Lafayette broke the Orange’s full-court press with ease, passing it up the sidelines to get into its half-court offense. Once the offense was set, the Leopards were patient. They swung the ball around the perimeter to get SU’s 2-3 zone moving before a forward flashed to the foul line for an open jumper.That patience and ball movement was apparent on the Leopards’ final possession of the first half.With SU up by two and less than one minute to play, Lafayette guard Brya Freeland brought the ball up the floor and hit McGorry at the free-throw line. McGorry turned to the basket before swinging the ball back Freeland on the right wing.Freeland took a few dribbles and surveyed the floor before firing a pass to Melissa Downey, who had slipped behind the defense along the right sideline near the basket. She dropped off a bounce pass to a cutting McGorry, who was fouled by Kayla Alexander on her layup attempt.McGorry went to the line and hit one free throw to move the Leopards within a point going into the half.‘We had to stop their midrange because they were on fire from midrange in the first half, so we pretty much got each other going,’ SU guard Carmen Tyson-Thomas said.Syracuse ratcheted up the intensity immediately by forcing the two quick turnovers. Coming out of that timeout 44 seconds into the half, Hall forced Lafayette guard Emily Homan to walk while trying to escape a defensive trap.It was the Leopards’ third turnover in as many possessions.The Orange switched its press to force Lafayette to dribble up the court rather than pass down the sideline. Hillsman said assistant coach Vonn Read made the adjustment, which made a big difference in the second half.‘We came out with a different mentality,’ Hall said. ‘And we just had to get up on them man to man and force them to dribble a lot instead of making that pass over the top and breaking our press.’That pressure keyed a 24-5 run to start the second half for the Orange.SU held the Leopards scoreless for the first 3:16 of the half, and didn’t allow them to score again until the 13:25 mark.And three possessions after that rare bucket, Tyson-Thomas took the ball from guard Maddie Peabody and went coast-to-coast to finish a runner from a few feet out to give SU a commanding 20-point lead — its largest of the game to that point.The Orange defense stayed sharp and held Lafayette in check the rest of the way for an easy win.‘We got out there and we did what we were supposed to do,’ Tyson-Thomas said. ‘We turned it up in the second half.’[email protected] Published on November 19, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Ryne: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Commentslast_img