INDIANAPOLIS – It was deja vu all over again for BR-11 Syracuse as the Orange jumped out to a large lead over BR-13 Washington and maintained that advantage in an 80-59 wire-to-wire win in the D1 Women’s Final Four semifinal contest inside Bankers Life Fieldhouse Sunday night.
Syracuse (30-7) saw not only a balanced scoring attack in which all nine players cracked the points column, but also saw each player grab at least one rebound, seven players record at least one steal and six of the nine players in the contest dish out at least one assist.
“One of our keys of victory is that we don’t need any heroes and be a star in your role,” said Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman. “You have to contribute to winning this game.”
The Orange overcame a slow start in which they missed eight of their first 10 shots in the opening five minutes. Washington (26-11), however, couldn’t take advantage as the Huskies missed their first five shots in that opening span, allowing Syracuse to take an early 5-3 lead.
“That was a big run,” said Washington head coach Mike Neighbors. “They made a little adjustment, they started to get it to the high post, then it was just eight points in a row. And when you get a team that is this hot this late in the year, that fuels that energy and it’s really hard to stem the flow.”
That flow came in an 8-for-10 shooting effort by the Orange, who would take a 23-12 lead after the first quarter. Syracuse would lead by as many as 19, 39-20, with 4:35 until halftime after a three by Maggie Morrison.
The Huskies, however, would answer with an 11-4 run to close out the first half and cut the lead to 43-31 at the break after a Kelsey Plum layup.
Unlike the earlier meeting between the two teams on Nov. 27 in Las Vegas, won by Syracuse 66-62, the Huskies could not mount a comeback as the Orange never trailed by less than 11 points in the entire second half.
In her final collegiate game, Washington’s Talia Walton scored a game-high 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field and 8-of-9 from beyond the arc.
“My teammates did a great job of finding me and a lot of credit goes to them,” Watson said after the game. “I just wanted to come out and play like it was my last game, obviously hoping that it wasn’t. I wanted to do what I could to give my team the best chance to win.”
Syracuse also held Plum, who entered the game as the nation’s third leading scorer, to 17 points.
“Syracuse does a good job of trapping ball screens and rotating on the pass,” Plum said. “I didn’t do a very good job of handling that pressure.”
Alexis Peterson led the Orange with 18 points, while Brittney Sykes added 17.