Syracuse’s seniors get win of careers against No. 13 Louisville in final home game

first_img Published on March 5, 2013 at 2:06 am Contact David: [email protected] | @DBWilson2 Facebook Twitter Google+ When it was all done, Carmen Tyson-Thomas stepped back onto the Carrier Dome floor and looked around. It finally dawned on her: She would never play there again.“I’m not really an emotional person,” Tyson-Thomas said, “but I was just like, ‘Damn.’”For the final time, Syracuse’s seniors took the floor in the Dome and came away with the biggest victory in their four years with the Orange. No. 24 SU (23-6, 11-5 Big East) upset No. 13 Louisville (23-7, 11-5) 68-57 on Senior Night to snap a three-game losing streak, lock up the No. 3 seed in the Big East tournament and give Syracuse its first win over a ranked opponent this season. All three seniors in the rotation – Tyson-Thomas, Elashier Hall and Kayla Alexander – scored in double figures Monday with Alexander’s 16 points leading the way.The Orange’s seniors have knocked off ranked teams during their careers – when they were freshmen, SU upset then-No. 7 West Virginia in the regular-season finale – but with NCAA and Big East tournament positioning on the line, the stakes against a ranked team had never been higher.“Given the time and the place, this is what we needed. We needed this win,” Tyson-Thomas said, agreeing with Hall’s sentiment that this was the biggest win of their careers. “Because we wanted to finish on a strong note and kind of make a statement.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We made a statement that we could grind on this kind of level and play with the big dogs.”Fellow senior Shanee Williams joined Hall, Alexander and Tyson-Thomas on the court 15 minutes before tipoff to be honored during Senior Night. About 20 minutes later, the four took the floor again when Tyson-Thomas and Williams subbed in to join starters Hall and Alexander at the 18:44 mark.The four seniors stayed on the floor together for three minutes as the Cardinals reeled off an 8-0 run, putting Syracuse in an early 8-3 hole. The Orange eventually headed into halftime trailing 29-27. Alexander played less that than nine minutes due to foul trouble, and Hall and Tyson-Thomas had combined for just two field goals.In the second half, though, the seniors stabilized SU. Syracuse used a 16-0 run in the second half to take control before Hall, Alexander and Tyson-Thomas closed it out for the Orange.“Our seniors made some big plays,” Hillsman said. “ … We made a couple huge shots.”With 1:15 remaining, a 15-point SU lead shrunk to just four. Two 3s by UofL guard Shoni Schimmel put Syracuse’s Senior Night in doubt. Hall got fouled and went to the line. The last two times an SU player went to the line, she missed the front end of a one-and-one. But Hall was cool, knocking down both to stretch the lead to six.Schimmel missed a 3-pointer on the other end and Hall grabbed the rebound. She passed to Tyson-Thomas, who fired to Alexander for a transition layup, sealing the game with 30 seconds remaining.“I just wanted us to win,” Alexander said with a laugh. “Just trying to play basketball. It didn’t really hit me.”The three seniors cracked jokes about each other during the postgame press conference, recalling memories from their freshman years and touching on what makes them all special as players. All three finished their careers with 1,000 points. But what Hillsman said makes this senior class so unique is the different personalities.The Class of 2009 didn’t arrive at Syracuse with lofty expectations. Still, it came together, made sacrifices – Hillsman said Tyson-Thomas’ willingness to come off of the bench was key to the season – and now appears all but certain it will guide the Orange back to the NCAA Tournament.Alexander said she still doesn’t feel her goal of reaching the tournament has been achieved. But Monday night, Hillsman, who had been reluctant to say his team would qualify for the NCAA Tournament, even after 22 wins, could finally concede it.Said Hillsman, grinning from ear to ear: “I think we’re in now.” Commentslast_img