WBB : Orange cycles through defensive schemes in loss in Big East opener

first_imgBy the time Quentin Hillsman finally settled in on a defense that confused West Virginia, the Mountaineers had already done enough damage to sustain the pressure.The Syracuse head coach’s defense was abused by WVU for the majority of the game.With about eight minutes left in the second half, the Orange switched to a full-court man-to-man press, and it worked. SU forced three straight West Virginia turnovers and cut WVU’s lead to six.But in the time it took to discover a defensive scheme that worked, it was already too late.‘We kept changing it from full-court to half-court and then finally we got settled into something that started at the bottom,’ Hillsman said. ‘Once we got it locked in, it got us into one possession, Shanee on the wing with the great open look to put us up one, and we missed the shot.’AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Mountaineers took advantage of the Orange’s 2-3 zone and half-court press as well and built a lead that grew to as large as 16. Until Hillsman threw the full-court press at WVU, the Mountaineers had their way with the Orange. The newfound aggressiveness in the SU defense jumpstarted a Syracuse comeback, but it was too late as WVU held on to defeat the Orange 76-72 in the Carrier Dome on Wednesday.The Mountaineers found space in SU’s defense for the majority of the game. They extended SU’s 2-3 zone with ease, opening up space in the middle with pass after pass and leaving the Mountaineers frontcourt players isolated underneath.With 12:43 remaining in the second half, West Virginia center Ayana Dunning caught the ball on the right wing with space in front of her. She took one dribble to the basket, caught SU center Kayla Alexander flat-footed and threw a bounce pass to Mountaineers forward Asya Bussie, who slipped behind the defense and made an easy layup.Bussie was able to take advantage of one-on-one matchups, scoring eight straight points for WVU to give the Mountaineers its largest lead of the game at 56-40.‘We know they’d played a 2-3 zone, and in the scout we saw that they kept the middle wide open,’ Dunning said. ‘So one of our game plans was to get in the middle as much as we can.’West Virginia was able to get numerous open looks from around the arc as SU’s guards had trouble tracking down the ball and sliding over in its zone.In the first half, West Virginia found Dunning numerous times in mismatch situations. As SU’s zone struggled to cover the perimeter, the 6-foot-3 center found space in one-on-one matchups in the post, and she took advantage of countless passes over the top, scoring 11 in the first half.‘They did get us stretched out some, and I thought they beat us off the bounce,’ Hillsman said. ‘It’s one thing you can’t have in a zone. We can’t get beat off the bounce because you start playing five-on-four.’In perhaps Syracuse’s most physical game of the season to date, its Big East opener, the Mountaineers were the stronger team. West Virginia had numerous second-chance opportunities in the first half, collecting 18 offensive rebounds compared to SU’s six. The advantage enabled WVU to take 43 shots in the first half.Dunning was the prime beneficiary. She grabbed nine first-half rebounds on the way to a 19-point night.‘We were in there, we were bumping and going head to head, so it was either they were going to get it, or we were going to get it,’ SU forward Iasia Hemingway said. ‘We were grabbing each other, people were falling on the floor. Everyone is going to go out there and play hard.’That physicality caught up with the Orange. SU couldn’t contain West Virginia early on, and by the time it found a solution, the Mountaineers had already taken control.‘We’ve got to talk a little bit more in our zone,’ Hemingway said. ‘We need to make sure we get help and stay focused.’[email protected]  Published on December 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Commentslast_img

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