WBB : Offensive struggles plague Syracuse in loss to West Virginia

first_img Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on December 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Chris: cjiseman@syr.edu | @chris_isemancenter_img Minutes after his team fell just short for its third straight loss, all Quentin Hillsman could do was shake his head and admit he doesn’t know the cause of Syracuse’s cold shooting. Somewhere between practice and games, SU’s ability to knock down shots is lost.And it’s causing the Orange to be one dimensional and easily beatable.‘We shoot a lot every day in practice,’ Hillsman said. ‘We shoot a ton. And we shoot for competition. What I do know is that we have to keep taking shots because, if not, they’re going to sink deeper and deeper into Kayla (Alexander) and Iasia (Hemingway’s) lap, and we’ll never be able to get the ball inside.’West Virginia exploited Syracuse’s shooting weakness by focusing its defense on the Orange’s inside presence, and it rode that game plan to a 76-72 win over Syracuse (6-3, 0-1 Big East) on Wednesday night in front of 778 in the Carrier Dome. The Orange put together a late comeback attempt, but its first-half shooting woes dug a hole that SU could never claw its way out of as it dropped its conference opener to the Mountaineers (6-2, 1-0).Syracuse went just 20-for-58 — 34.5 percent — from the field and a paltry 1-for-17 from beyond the arc. The Orange jumped out to an early 10-6 lead, but that would be the only time it would hold the advantage.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Mountaineers went on an 11-2 scoring run during which Syracuse missed four shots, including two 3-pointers that, if drained, could have kept the momentum on SU’s side. The run put WVU in control for the rest of the game and forced Syracuse into a game of catch-up.Neither Hillsman nor any of the players could place their finger on what’s plaguing the offense.‘It may stem from a lack of focus and how the game is going, trying to get the ball inside too much. We’ve got to be ready to shoot,’ Carmen Tyson-Thomas said. ‘It’s more about us as shooters not being ready to shoot and being ready to knock down shots and make plays.’Syracuse found out what happens when it only has one consistent way to score. As the Orange struggled from the outside, West Virginia’s defense collapsed on SU center Kayla Alexander to remove Syracuse’s most consistent scorer. Alexander still managed to go 6-for-6 for 14 points, but that’s a far cry from the 20-plus points she notched in recent games.So while Alexander was handcuffed in the low post, Hemingway had to look elsewhere to dish the ball off to from the high post. But when the ball was placed into the hands of one of the Orange’s guards, it rarely led to points.Syracuse managed to stay within reach because of West Virginia’s high number of fouls. The Mountaineers committed 12 fouls in the first half, and the Orange shot 13-for-14 from the line.‘After the first half, when we went back into the locker room, we really don’t focus on what went wrong,’ Hemingway said. ‘We focus on what we need to do in the second half. …We were down by 15, we came back and we lost by four. ‘Syracuse did begin a comeback. By then, though, it was too little, too late.Tyson-Thomas went 6-for-16 from the field. Elashier Hall finished 3-for-10. Shanee Williams went 2-for-8.Williams missed what could’ve been a pivotal 3-pointer with 1:24 remaining that would’ve put Syracuse up by one. Wide open in the left corner, she had the perfect opportunity to complete the comeback, but the guard’s shot clanked off the rim and into hands of Mountaineers’ center Asya Bussie for the rebound.It was an exact representation of SU’s shooting woes on Wednesday and during its losing streak.After the game, West Virginia head coach Mike Carey said his defense didn’t do anything special, or anything out of the ordinary to stifle Syracuse’s shooters. All of the Orange’s problems rested solely its own shoulders, he said.‘They were just missing,’ Carey said. ‘A lot of them they were wide open. …We went to the 2-3, and they missed some wide open shots, which is why we were able to stay in it.’Three straight losses. Three straight poor shooting performances. And no surefire way to climb out of the slump.Right now, SU has one way to score with consistency, and that’s to get the ball down low to Alexander. But that only works for so long, until teams start taking that option away.As Syracuse saw on Wednesday night, that’ll usually lead the Orange to fall on the wrong side of the ledger.‘We do have to make shots,’ Tyson-Thomas said. ‘It is important for us to do that. …We have to step up.’cjiseman@syr.edulast_img