Saturday, March 22, 2014
- by B.B. Branton
"We have to get tougher ... we shouldn't miss a box out and we have to make free throws ... next year we play Notre Dame, Tennessee and Stanford so we better get tougher."
---UTC women's basketball coach Jim Foster after today's 59-53 loss to Syracuse in the NCAA tournament
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- In a game of missed opportunities and an off day shooting, the Chattanooga Lady Mocs lost to Syracuse, 59-53, here today in an NCAA D-I Women's Basketball Championship first round game in Memorial Coliseum.
While senior Taylor Hall posted a double-double (19 pts./10 rebs.) - her 14th of the season - along with six assists, Chattanooga had its worst shooting game since late November and was out-rebounded for the only the fifth time since Christmas, losing the battle on the boards (52-36) and for second chance baskets (19-13).
UTC (29-4) shot 34.4% (21-61) from the field, it's lowest total since shooting 28.8% in a 60-55 loss to Hawaii (Nov.30) and matched its season-low in free throw percentage - 28.6% - (Jax State, Dec. 10).
"Losing is never fun, but it's frustrating when we miss free throws and didn't control the boards," said Hall, a senior, who was Southern Conference Player of the Year.
Fellow senior Faith Dupree said," We didn't compete with them on rebounds and we didn't have a great effort on getting the loose balls They wanted it more than we did."
UTC's Alex Black had nine points (on 3, 3s) and three rebounds, Dupree added eight points, while Jasmine Joyner had five points, two rebounds and three blocked shots.
25 in a Row: The loss ended UTC's 25-game win streak which started in Dec. 1 with a 59-57 triumph against Colorado State in Hawaii. UTC is 1-12 in NCAA tournament games.
The Orange's ability to score inside (28-18 advantage), win the battle for offensive rebounds (19-15) and second chance points (19-13) and the ability to make free throws (24 of 31) proved to be the difference.
"We wanted to throw the ball inside to (6-3 center) Shakeya Leary and she responded with 15 points and we knew we could get to the rim and we did," said Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman whose team improves to 23-9, gains its first ever NCAA tournament win (1-5) and will face Kentucky ( a 106-60 winner against Wright State) here Monday in a round of 32 game.
Leading scorers for The Orange were Leary (15 pts./8 rebs.), Brittany Sykes (13 pts./12 rebs) and Brianna Butler (3 pts./10 rebs).
Free Throws: Butler was 9-10, Leary was 7-8 and Sykes was 5-5.
Coach Foster: "It was a winable game, but we didn't win the race for loose balls and you have to have five on the floor who want to score by attacking their zone and finding the gaps."
First Half: Syracuse led 28-24 at intermission after five lead changes, and held its largest lead at seven at 26-19 at 3:51 but UTC's Alex Black (3-pointer) and Hall combined for five points in the final two minutes.
Second Half: Syracuse led by as many as nine, three times and 10, once, before UTC had a chance to pull within one at the 10 minute mark, but Hall missed a 3-point attempt down 42-38 ... The Orange was back up by six in less than a minute on a pair of free throws by Alexis Peterson and up by 10 at 54-44 at 2:33.
UTC's Hall kept the Blue and Gold in the game with a trio of 3s to pull within four at 57-53 with 13 seconds remaining.
"I am blessed to be part of this program as we have a tight bond on the team," Hall stated.
Orange Leader Goes Down: Sykes was injured at 12:46 of the second half with 13 pts./12 rebs. and did not return to the game.
"We were a little shook, said a prayer for Brittany and then we knew we had to stay up on UTC on defense," said coach Hillsman.
Syracuse led by four at 40-36 at the time Sykes was injured.
Syracuse 59, Chattanooga 53
UTC 24 - 29 -- 53
Syracuse 28 - 31 -- 59
Halftime: Syracuse, 28-24 Attendance: 5,404
Stats: FG% Syracuse (31.5%) UTC (34.4%)
FT% Syracuse (77.4%) UTC 28.6%)
3-Pt FG % - Syracuse (6.7%), UTC 25.9%)
Rebounds: Syracuse (52-36)
Assists: UTC, 14-5
Steals: Syracuse, 3-2
Blocked Shots: UTC, 3-1
Points in the Paint Syracuse, 28-18
Points Off Turnovers: 8-8
2nd Chance Points: Syracuse, 19-14
Fast Break Points: Syracuse, 4-0
Bench Points: Chattanooga, 14-13
contact B.B. Branton at email@example.com