Syracuse defense stifles Wagner in blowout win

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on December 5, 2012 at 12:56 am Contact Trevor: [email protected] | @TrevorHass Wagner head coach Lisa Cermignano confidently clapped her hands from the sideline after Jacqui Thompson drained a floater and cut Syracuse’s lead to 12 with 12:08 remaining.The Seahawks were within striking distance.Then, Wagner went ice cold, as Syracuse’s swarming defense forced the Seahawks into a string of turnovers and blew the game open in a hurry.Syracuse (8-1) embarked on a 28-2 run to close out its 66-28 victory over Wagner (1-6) at the Carrier Dome on Tuesday night. The Orange forced 25 turnovers and held the Seahawks to 19.3 percent shooting. After a sluggish start, SU’s defense turned it up a notch and held the Seahawks to 11 points in the second half.“We told the kids that they shoot the ball from deep,” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “I think once they figured out they had range we did a better job defensively.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEarly on, the Seahawks got open shots and stuck with the Orange.Wagner forward Stephanie Blais hit a 3-pointer from the left corner less than five minutes into the game, catapulting the Seahawks to a 5-4 lead. Four minutes later, Blais drilled another 3, pushing Wagner’s lead to three with 11:17 remaining in the first half.Marie-Laurence Archambault buried yet another 3 later in the first half, as Syracuse had no answer for Wagner’s shooters early in the contest.Hillsman’s game plan wasn’t working, as Wagner had plenty of wide-open shots. The head coach knew he had to make a tactical adjustment and urged his players to close out on shooters and prevent wide-open attempts from the perimeter.Wagner showed little ability to penetrate into the much taller Syracuse interior, so Rachel Coffey and the rest of the Orange took Hillsman’s advice and closed out on Blais and Archambault — players who kept Wagner in the game in the first half.“At halftime we realized that the shooters were the ones that were hitting the shots,” Coffey said. “We just had to locate them better than we did in the first half and get out on them.”That’s exactly what SU did, as Wagner went 1-for-11 from the arc in the second half and looked out of whack. The Seahawks also didn’t attempt any free throws in the second half and shot 17.2 percent from the floor.“We just wanted to keep them in front of us,” Hillsman said. “We thought if we could get some pressure on them we would have some success.”And they certainly did.Late in the second half, during a more than 12-minute stretch in which the Seahawks scored just two points, Archambault heard a “5-4-3-2-1” countdown from the band. She hoisted the ball up with more than five seconds remaining on the shot clock, resulting in yet another miscue and missed opportunity.Syracuse had too much length, too much size and presented too many different defensive looks. The Orange overwhelmed the Seahawks in the final 20 minutes.“Offensively we shoot the ball extremely well, but we had a difficult time attacking the basket,” Cermignano said. “Syracuse does a great job changing its defense every possession.”Hillsman implemented a 2-3 zone, man-to-man and a full-court press at various times throughout the game, causing turnovers and wreaking havoc defensively.The Seahawks passed the ball laterally against the SU press rather than attacking it. The team exerted so much effort just to break the defense that it was unable to generate any rhythm offensively.The Wagner coaching staff looked perplexed and had no solution for the SU defense. By the game’s final minutes, Cermignano’s smile after Thompson’s floater cut the lead to 12 had turned into a sour, disappointed look.Said Hillsman: “They had six field goals in the first half and five in the second half, so that’s a masterful job on defense.” Commentslast_img


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