SU women's basketball doubles up Pittsburgh, improves to 21-3

SYRACUSE, N.Y. - Kayla Alexander scored a game-high 19 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked seven shots to lead No. 23/21 Syracuse women's basketball (21-3, 9-2) to a dominating 80-39 victory vs. Pittsburgh (9-15, 0-11) in front of 1,355 on Play 4 Kay Day at the Carrier Dome on Saturday afternoon.

The win gives the Orange its best overall record through 24 games in program history, while its 9-2 BIG EAST mark is its best in 25 years.

"We just came out today and played very clean basketball," head coach Quentin Hillsman said. "I thought we played very solid on the defensive end. We made some shots so I think that always changes the complexity of the game."

La'Shay Taft went 3-of-4 from behind the arc for the second straight game and finished with 11 points, while Carmen Tysom-Thomas (10) and Brittney Sykes (10) rounded out four Orange in double figures.

The Orange used its up-tempo pressure defense to cause 23 Pitt turnovers, turning them into 27 points, while committing a season-low nine turnovers itself. SU held a 22-0 advantage in fast-break points and put its depth on display, receiving 35 points (44 percent) off the bench.

The point guard duo of Rachel Coffey and Cornelia Fondren combined for 12 assists and just one turnover as the Orange recorded assists on 24 of its 31 field goals.

SU scored the first eight points of the second half with Sykes accounting for six of them, turning a 20-point halftime lead into a 46-18 lead with 17 minutes to go. Alexander scored 10 points in a 14-2 run between the 11:37 and 6:14 marks of the second half, extending the Orange lead to 40, 69-29.

The Orange used an 18-2 first-half run to take a 38-18 halftime lead with Taft leading the way with 11 points. She scored eight of her points in the run that spanned four minutes between the 9:27 and 5:27 marks.

Syracuse took control of the game from the opening tip, taking a 7-0 lead in the first three minutes behind a 3-pointer by Brianna Butler and layups by Fondren and Elashier Hall.

After a Fondren bucket in the paint at the 15:36 mark gave SU a 13-4 lead, the Orange went scoreless for the next 4:45 until Taft came off the bench to score eight-straight points, hitting a pair of 3-pointers and converting a nice assist from Tyson-Thomas inside, giving SU a 21-8 lead with 8:31 left in the half.

For the game, Syracuse shot 47 percent, including 7-of-20 from 3-point range, while holding the Panthers to 26.2 percent shooting and 1-of-14 from behind the arc.

The Panthers were led by Marquel Davis' 12 points, while Utica native Brianna Kiesel had six points and seven rebounds.

Syracuse wore pink uniforms as part of the Play 4 Kay initiative in support of breast cancer awareness.

The Orange remains home to host Rutgers on Tuesday in a 7 p.m. tip-off at the Carrier Dome. The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network.

***Courtesy SU Athletics***