Butler, Sykes lead Syracuse to comeback win after slow starts

first_imgQuentin Hillsman looked at the scoreboard and then at Brittney Sykes and Brianna Butler. He didn’t mince words. He told them they needed to step up.It was during a timeout late in the first half. The two had combined for just five points thus far and not surprisingly, Syracuse was down.“I said, ‘If you guys don’t start scoring, we’re not going to win the basketball game,’” Hillsman said. “‘There’s just no chance we can win if you’ve got two points and you’ve got three points.’“And they responded.”Syracuse’s top two scorers couldn’t get anything to go down in the first half, but eventually combined for 37 points in the Orange’s (12-4, 1-2 Atlantic Coast) 76-70 win over Georgia Tech (11-5, 1-2) on Sunday. The duo scored 11 of 12 points in a game-changing 12-point run to give SU a lead late in the second half.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe late effort helped the Orange to its first ACC win as a member school in front of 772 fans in the Carrier Dome.“My teammates were getting on me,” said Sykes, who finished with 14 points. “Coach was getting on me about being too calm in the game. I had to step up for them to help them win the game.”Down the stretch in the second half, it was all Butler and Sykes. Butler — SU’s best 3-point shooter who finished with 23 points — connected on a 3-pointer to start the 12-0 run. Then, just more than a minute later, she tied the score at 63.With the score tied at 67 and 2:20 to play, Sykes was dribbling the ball up in pressure. The hounding defense left Butler wide open in the corner. Sykes found Butler, and she nailed it to give Syracuse a lead that it would not relinquish.“I think in the first half I kind of beat myself,” Butler said. “I think in the second half and toward the end of the first half, when I hit that first 3, it definitely made me more confident and I was able to knock down each of the shots.”Hillsman said he was concerned that Butler wasn’t looking for the 3. He said Georgia Tech was forcing her to drive to the basket, which hindered her from doing what she does best.“There are not many players in basketball that can light it up like neon, shoot the ball and make it every time they touch it,” Hillsman said. “You have to make shots, you can’t let teams turn you into a driver.”But the comeback also came on the soft touch of Sykes. Though she made only one shot in the first half, she was 3-for-3 from the field and 6-of-6 from the foul line in the second. Her jumper with 4:17 left gave SU its first lead in 14 minutes, and her free throws iced the game for Syracuse in the waning seconds.Sykes said SU’s second-half effort was a wake-up call for her team, which has blown a second-half lead in three of its four losses.“As soon as we ran in the locker room, we were all celebrating the win. But we came to realize that we can’t go back to the way we used to play,” Sykes said. “The ACC is a great conference and these teams are ready to battle.“We’re ready to battle with them.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 12, 2014 at 5:18 pm Contact Sam: [email protected] | @SamBlum3last_img

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