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Alexander’s dominant 34-point performance leads Syracuse to win over Villanova in Big East tournament quarterfinals

first_imgIt was a simple formula for Syracuse: Get the ball inside to Kayla Alexander. When the center had the ball in the post, she was going to score.Villanova had no answer inside for the 6-foot-4 senior. With 6-foot-2 forward Laura Sweeney out with a concussion, the Wildcats were left without their top interior presence.“I’ve got to give our kids credit,” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman told reporters after the game. “They did a good job sticking to our game plan, Villanova is tough and they played five out, and everything they do goes against every principle in our zone. We had to make sure we contested every shot.”Alexander scored 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting in the first half, and 34 in the game. No. 3-seed Syracuse (24-6, 11-5 Big East) outscored sixth-seeded VU (21-10, 9-8) 22-0 in the paint in the first half and went into the break with a nine-point lead before holding on for a 61-56 victory in the Big East tournament quarterfinals at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn. Alexander also added 15 field goals in her record-setting performance.With the win, the Orange advances to the Big East tournament semifinals for the first time since 2002, where it will face No. 2-seed Connecticut.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe first half was a clinic of offensive execution for Alexander. She scored her first bucket on a layup less than a minute and a half into the game. Less than nine minutes into the game she broke double digits in the scoring column, knocking down a free throw.She added three more field goals in the opening frame, though these three all came on jump shots, to finish with her 16 and guide SU to a 32-23 halftime lead.“She is very good and big and strong inside. That’s what we’re not,” Villanova head coach Harry Perretta told reporters after the game. “We’re not a big physical team.”The second half started with more of the same. Alexander knocked down a jumper less than 40 seconds into the half to stretch the lead to double digits. She drained another jump shot three and a half minutes later as the Syracuse lead ballooned to 15, the largest of the game.But Villanova battled back. With 8:57 remaining, VU guard Devon Kane drilled a 3-pointer to cut the lead to seven. But Alexander came right back on the other end with a jumper to push the lead back to nine and give her 32 on the day. Even as the lead shrunk, Alexander’s dominance made it difficult to envision a successful Wildcat comeback.Villanova managed to hold Alexander to just four points the rest of the way and a nearly seven-minute scoreless stretch. With 2:03 to play, Wildcats guard Caroline Coyer hit a jumper to cut the lead to 53-51. On the next possession, Alexander ended her drought with a layup to push the lead back to four and tie SU’s Big East tournament scoring record.“I always tell her she is my life line,” Hillsman said. “She really is and when you have a player this talented, you have to find a way to make her better.”The Orange’s defense held firm the rest of the way, allowing just one point until the game was firmly in hand.Alexander stepped to the free throw line with 33 seconds left and knocked down a pair of foul shots, breaking Syracuse’s tournament scoring record and handing SU a 58-52 lead. It would be enough. Syracuse survived and advanced.“Honestly I give it all back to my teammates,” Alexander told reporters after the game. “They were looking inside, and I thought we were playing a good inside-outside game. When they were open on the outside they were going to attack, and when I was open on the inside they were going to hand me the ball.“They kept giving it to me, and I don’t score unless my teammates give me the ball.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 11, 2013 at 12:03 am Contact David: [email protected] | @DBWilson2last_img read more