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Georgia Tech defense bottles up Syracuse in 82-64 rout

September 16, 2020

first_imgTo start the second half, Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman made nine substitutions in three minutes and 15 seconds, frantically searching for an answer.Whisper Fisher, Elemy Colome, Teisha Hyman and Taleah Washington all checked in at various points, mixing in with SU’s regulars. Ten different players touched the court before Hillsman threw up his hands and called a timeout to stop Georgia Tech’s 16-10 run. A minute later Hillsman picked up a technical foul, his team trailing by 19.On Thursday night in the Carrier Dome, Hillsman never found a solution as Syracuse (8-8, 2-3 Atlantic Coast) met the conference’s stingiest defense. Lights-out shooting in the fourth quarter — SU went 4-for-4 from 3 in the frame — masked an otherwise lock-down defensive performance from Georgia Tech (14-3, 5-1). The Yellow Jackets entered Thursday’s matchup allowing a conference-best 47.8 points per game and 25.5% shooting from 3. They held Syracuse to 40 points in the first three quarters, forcing a deficit SU couldn’t overcome in the 82-64 loss, its second consecutive blowout.“We’re just not playing good right now,” senior guard Gabrielle Cooper said. “We’re not playing good. These last two games have been some of our worst games that I’ve played in since I’ve been here. We really got to find a way … to motivate ourselves. We’ve got to dig deep.”GT came into the season picked by the Blue Ribbon Panel to finish 12th in the conference, but have impressed with wins over No. 11 Florida State and No. 23 Miami — SU beat the former, but lost to the latter. Georgia Tech’s man-to-man defense has been its motor all season, and it was no different against Syracuse. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSyracuse’s offense starts with leading scorer Kiara Lewis making plays in the pick and roll, and it was clear Georgia Tech’s plan was to take the ball out of Lewis’s hands and keep her out of the paint. To do this, Georgia Tech’s on-ball defenders and whoever was guarding SU’s screener positioned themselves to force Lewis to the sideline — “icing” the screen, Hillsman said — and stationing help defenders in the paint to take away SU’s first options.  “They did a really good job of just loading the paint,” Hillsman said. “One thing that we talked about in our game prep is we had to get the ball side-to-side. We weren’t going to be able to score making one pass and try to attack and score the basket … And what we did for the first three quarters, we just threw the ball, made one pass, brought our head down, went and took shots.” GT mixed up its pick-and-roll coverages between icing, trapping and hedging, which limited Lewis to four points on 2-for-8 shooting in the first half. Playing at Georgia Tech’s preferred pace, SU’s first made 3-pointer came with 1:44 left in the first quarter. It marked three of just 11 first-quarter points for the Orange.  The Orange followed up their 11-point first quarter with 13 points in the second. Lewis came alive in the final frame to eventually bring her total to 21, but she struggled through the first half. The Yellow Jackets’ scheme was working, and GT entered halftime with a 37-24 lead.On one play in the second quarter, Lewis beat a hedge pick-and-roll defense by driving before her defender could recover and banking in a floater. But she also shot a midrange airball over a GT big who switched onto her on another possession and rimmed out a contested free-throw line jumper off a ball-screen.Before the second half began, assistant coach Cedric Solice wrapped his left arm around Lewis’ shoulder by midcourt for a pep talk, patting her on the head as she walked away to join her team’s huddle.But during Georgia Tech’s 16-10 run to start the second half and extend its lead to 21, Lewis didn’t attempt a shot. Out of Hillsman’s timeout, she got downhill and finished a layup in traffic, cutting GT’s lead to 55-36. She was starting to decipher GT’s defensive schemes. “I think in the second half,” Lewis said “Once I get a running start it (was) kind of easier. In the first half, I was just stationary, so it made it a little easier to ice the ball screens and try to trap them.”Still, SU entered the final frame down 67-40. The Yellow Jackets’ defense also bottled up Emily Engstler, who recorded two points in 26 minutes. In the fourth quarter, Syracuse’s lead was never within 14 points.SU finished with seven 3s on 15 tries. It hasn’t reached 10 makes — Hillsman’s stated goal — since Dec. 5 against Michigan.With the loss, Syracuse fell to 6-2 at home this season. Before tonight, most of the Orange’s ailments — late-game scoring droughts, ineffective pressing and sloppy turnovers — were seemingly cured in the Carrier Dome.“When teams come here, we win games,” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said on Jan. 15.That trend didn’t continue on Thursday, as Georgia Tech’s defense brought SU’s shortcomings back to the surface. It also left Hillsman without any answers as to why his now .500 team didn’t show up.“We knew the urgency of this game,” Hillsman said. “We understand that we’re at home and winning home games are a must. And we just didn’t take care of our business, and I really don’t have the answer to why we didn’t come out with a little more effort and a little more energy. But at the end of the day, that’s my job to find it.” Comments Published on January 16, 2020 at 9:52 pm Contact Danny: dremerma@syr.edu | @DannyEmerman Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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