Orange tie best start ever and leave the Demons feeling Blue

SYRACUSE, NY - Senior Kayla Alexander registered her seventh double-double the season with 24 points and 17 rebounds as the rv/23 Syracuse women's basketball team defeated DePaul, 84-80, at the Carrier Dome.Senior Elashier Hall tied her career-high with 23 points while leading the team with five steals.

The game featured 13 lead changes, but the Orange was able to hold off the Blue Demons to improve to 15-1 in the season and 3-0 in BIG EAST play. The 15-1 start for the Orange ties the best start in program history with 2009-10 season when SU also started 15-1. Syracuse's 3-0 start in BIG EAST play ties the1985-86 team for the best conference start in history.

"This was a really gutsy game by our players," said head coach Quentin Hillsman. "Lacie was hurt and we didn't know if she was even going to play today, but obviously she showed up really, really big for us. Night in and night out, Kayla Alexander is how we go and when she plays this way, we won't lose a lot of basketball games."

After trading leads the entire game, two free throws by Alexander at 7:40 in the second half began a 12-0 run for the Orange that propelled them to a 71-65 advantage after being down, 65-59. During the run, Alexander's two free throws followed by a layup, pulled the Orange within two, 65-63. Hall's two free throws at 7:40 made it a tie ball game yet again. Sykes then turned a Blue Demon turnover into two points, completing a layup to give the Orange a 67-65 lead.

The Orange then took a 75-67 lead after Coffey found Alexander on the low block and she put in the layup.

A 3-pointer by Chanise Jenkins put DePaul within three points, but Hall answered with a layup and gave the Orange a 79-74 lead.

A jumper by Tyson-Thomas opened up SU's lead to 81-78 with 56 seconds left. Coffey was fouled with 32. 8 left in the game and after sinking both of her free throws, the Orange were up by five points, 83-78.

Hrynko's jumper had the Blue Demons within three with 16 seconds left but after Tyson-Thomas was fouled on the inbounds play, she made the front end of her free throws, securing Syracuse's 84-80 victory.

Hall had 10 of the Orange's first 12 points, after Cornelia Fondren opened up the scoring for SU with a jump shot. The lead bounced back and forth between the two BIG EAST opponents throughout most of the first half.

A layup on the left side by Fondren at 12:54 started a 7-0 Syracuse run that lasted 58 seconds and gave the Orange a 25-19 lead. The run included a jumper by Alexander, who scored eight points in the first 10 minutes of the game.

A 3-pointer by Brittany Hrynko put DePaul within three, 25-22, but another layup by Fondren had SU up, 27-22. After drawing a foul on a layup, Brianna Butler sank both of her free throws and the Orange led the Blue Demons 31-26 at 7:04.

Five straight points by the Blue Demons had the score tied at 31-31.

Coffey's first three of the night broke the tie and with just five minutes left in the first half, the Orange led, 34-31.

DePaul took its first lead since the 13:59 minute mark of the first half after Megan Podkowa hit a three-pointer to put the Blue Devils up, 41-36.

A bucket by Alexander had the Orange down only six points, 46-40, heading into the locker room.

A three-pointer right out of halftime by Butler energized the Orange and began an SU 7-0 run. Fondren was fouled at 2:23 seconds into the second half and sank the front end of her free throws. Butler put back the rebound on her second and SU was up by one point, 47-46.

Eight straight points by Hall had SU at a 55-52 lead at 14:33 minute mark.

DePaul countered with three-straight three pointers, holding a 61-59 advantage against the Orange before SU built its game-changing 12-0 run.

Syracuse travels to No. 3/2 Connecticut this weekend, playing the Huskies on Saturday, Jan. 19, at 4 p.m. at the XL Center in Hartford.