WBB : SU preps for 3rd round of WNIT with title aspirations

first_img Published on March 23, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: [email protected] | @mark_cooperjr Comments Jim Crowley started his postgame press conference Monday by saying he didn’t think Syracuse should be playing in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament. Crowley, St. Bonaventure’s head coach, thought the Orange didn’t belong on the same postseason court as his team.‘We played a pretty good schedule, we’ve seen a lot of teams that are in the NCAA tournament, and this team belongs there,’ Crowley said after his Bonnies suffered a 63-50 defeat to SU in Monday’s second-round game. ‘There’s not even a question.’But Syracuse is relegated to the WNIT for the third consecutive season. A year ago, the Orange won three games before losing in the quarterfinals to Michigan. To get back to the quarterfinals in 2011, Syracuse (24-9) will have to defeat Eastern Michigan (24-12) on Thursday in the Carrier Dome at 7 p.m. The Eagles advanced to the third round of the tournament by defeating Michigan and UNC-Wilmington in the first two rounds.As far as Crowley is concerned, Syracuse is the favorite to take the entire tournament. The Orange is the only Big East team in the field. Not only did that conference put a NCAA women’s tournament record nine teams in the field this year, but those nine teams went 9-0 in the first round.Syracuse beat three of those teams. And SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said despite the disappointment of being left out of the NCAA tournament, his Orange team is going at the WNIT with full effort.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘They’ve really been getting after it, so I give a lot of credit for not just throwing the towel in and saying, ‘It’s over. Let’s go to Spring Break. Let’s get out of here,” Hillsman said. ‘They didn’t do that. They stayed here, they worked hard.’The Orange entered the WNIT playing well, too, winning six of its last eight. The two losses came to No. 1 Connecticut and to No. 23 Georgetown by one point in the Big East tournament — a game that could have put SU on the right side of the bubble if it had won.Although Syracuse has come out with slow starts in each of its two WNIT games this season — trailing at the half to Monmouth and struggling to score early against the Bonnies — the Orange pulled together for double-digit victories in both.SU guard Elashier Hall said the inability to send the seniors out on a winning note last season has them motivated to do so for Erica Morrow and Tasha Harris this season.‘We’re just really excited to keep going and to do it big for these seniors,’ Hall said.The biggest advantage the Orange has over many of the mid-major schools it faces in the NIT is size. Crowley said he knew St. Bonaventure couldn’t match up with SU’s 6-foot-4 center Kayla Alexander. The Bonnies’ tallest starter is just 6-foot-1.Eastern Michigan’s tallest starter is 6-foot-1 as well. The Eagles feature two centers off the bench who are 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-4, but neither plays more than a handful of minutes on average.St. Bonaventure held Alexander in check, limiting her to just 12 points. But that effort to defend in such a height mismatch wore the Bonnies down.‘I give that credit to Syracuse and to the discipline their players have and to the really, really good job their coaching staff has done of playing into what they’re very good at,’ Crowley said.When Syracuse played into what it was good at Monday, it dominated. Iasia Hemingway posted a career-high in rebounds with 17, and Alexander got to double figures in the scoring column. On defense, SU clamped down on St. Bonaventure’s 3-point shooters, holding the Bonnies to just 20 first-half points.St. Bonaventure beat Marist this year, a team that went 31-3 this season and advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament. But the Bonnies were no match for Syracuse, and Crowley conceded that. His NIT-caliber squad couldn’t play with an NCAA tournament-caliber team.‘We battled and we competed,’ Crowley said. ‘And I feel like we probably played — not probably — we played the best team in the tournament.’[email protected]center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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