Witness the power of the 23rd letter of the alphabet. It's everywhere, most notably in the fairer sex. Women are everywhere in Syracuse: the mayor-elect, the county executive, even the chancellor of the university.
Wonder abounded as the Orange teams inhabiting the Dome during the month of November were unbeatable: the football team upset Rutgers on November 21, the men’s hoops team has five home wins (7-0 overall) and got a first-place vote in a recent poll, and the women are also 7-0 with five home victories, opening the December slate with the thrashing of the Seahawks Wednesday.
“We just don’t take any games for granted,” said SU head coach Quentin Hillsman.
Wagner, the German composer, would be proud of this offensive production, as the team made 47.8 percent of its shots while three Orange women reached double figures (eleven players total scored).
With a distinct height advantage, the Orange bullied Wagner around inside the paint. SU freshman forward Kayla Alexander asserted herself, leading all scorers with a career-high 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting, while frontcourtmate Nicole Michael added 14 points.
“We played a very good game offensively—47 percent from the field,” Hillsman said. “Kayla Alexander was phenomenal. To throw the ball down there, and have her turn and make plays.”
Woman of the week on campus (not to mention reigning Big East Conference Women’s Player of the Week) is junior guard Erica Morrow, who added 12 points in 17 minutes, hitting 5-of-10 from the floor.
Wing play by Morrow highlighted a big Orange run in the first half. Up 38-26, Morrow caught a rotation pass and attacked Wagner guard Stephanie McBride (yes, the little sister of Orange legend Julie McBride) off the dribble. Morrow, in an ode to NBA great Allen Iverson, crossed over McBride and drilled a 17-foot jumper from the elbow.
When the Orange got another stop and began the break, Morrow slung a pass downcourt to forward Troya Berry, who made a difficult catch before leaving the ball for Michael to convert the easy lay-in. Morrow had a loose ball bounce her way on the next possession, using a step-through dribble to create space for another jumper for a 44-26 Orange lead with 4:08 left in the half.
Way ahead, SU shot 57.9% in the first half to hold the 53-28 advantage.
W’s have a special meaning to journalists (there are six of them). For instance: What was Orange head coach Quentin Hillsman doing in the first minute of the game?
Watching from the SU sideline, the Q-man substituted five new players in just 49 seconds after the opening tip.
“We had to go back and adjust and talk about it,” Hillsman. “We didn’t get it done early and that’s why I subbed the whole five out.
“We just talked about offensive rebounding and not letting them get open looks. We put the second five in, who had been winning every scrimmage in practice.”
Well, it was the right decision – sophomore point guard Lynnae Lampkins put the gas pedal to the floor of Jim Boeheim Court, igniting a 10-2 Orange run with two assists and a 3-pointer.
Winners include the fans Wednesday night: Lampkins reappeared mid-way through the second half to give the crowd free tacos. The promotion “Taco Time” gives all ticket holders a free taco when the Orange hit the 65-point mark. Lampkins dances before the game in warm-ups, and dashes during the game, getting out on the fast-break lay-up at 14:47, pushing the SU lead to 67-34. (LINK TO PROMOTION)
Well, if that wasn’t enough, the SU women showed how to run a W-shaped fast break.
Wagner missed a jump shot and the defensive rebound bounced to Morrow on the right block. She outleted the ball to the opposite sideline to a streaking Lampkins, who crossed half-court with one dribble and snapped a pass to the SU elbow where Carmen Tyson-Thomas caught the ball on the run and dropped the ball off to senior forward Vionca Murray. Murray took a hit on the arm while laying the ball in, and converted the three-point play for a 71-34 lead at 13:44.
Women in white jerseys were screaming with elation. The good times continued to roll in the comfy confines.
Window cleaning was in vogue: the SU women held a 55-29 advantage on the glass, including as season-high 26 on the offensive glass.
“We just want to stay active,” Hillsman said. “We talk about every time, to just go (to the boards) every time. You know, if you go every time, five or six of them just fall into your lap if you just go.”
What now of the undefeated Orange, off to the best start since 1997-98?
We leave the last word to Morrow: “It does mean something, but we could win these first seven and lose our next 27,” she said.