Women's basketball

Hall’s free throws in final seconds lift Syracuse to comeback victory over Virginia

Syracuse 74, Virginia 73

Down by one with 8.5 seconds remaining, Cornelia Fondren blazed downcourt in pursuit of the game-winning basket.

She stumbled and fell moments later, and Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman complained about the lack of a foul call. The Orange retained possession, though, after a jump ball was called. Hillsman then called his final timeout to devise what would be the game’s final play.

Fondren inbounded the ball to a streaking Elashier Hall with 2.1 seconds to go. Hall caught the ball, drew the foul and headed to the free-throw line with 0.4 seconds remaining.

“We drew up an inbounds play that we hadn’t run,” Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said in a phone interview. “I didn’t want to run something that they already saw. She kept working and got the shot up.”

She drained both free throws, clinching a 74-73 come-from-behind win for Syracuse (6-0) over Virginia (4-1) at the Mario Morales Coliseum Saturday afternoon at the San Juan Shootout. The win capped a successful weekend in Puerto Rico for Syracuse, who also beat Georgia Tech on Friday.

Hall finished with 17 points, including the free throws to seal the deal. Kayla Alexander added 18 points for Syracuse, including 13 in the second half, after a somewhat sluggish start. She also contributed nine rebounds and four blocks.

“Kayla had a great second half,” Hillsman said. “In the first half I thought she was a little tentative, but her second half play was one of the biggest reasons we won the game.”

Alexander dominated the game on both ends, particularly on the glass, in the second half. Syracuse trailed 40-33 at the half, but then Alexander got into a rhythm and the momentum shifted.

Alexander scored four unanswered points coming out of the break, cutting the deficit to three. She trimmed the Cavaliers’ lead to two with a putback with 14:05 remaining, leading to a timeout from UVA coach Joanne Boyle.

The team’s played a back-and-forth contest the remainder of the half, and it could have gone either way in the waning minutes.

Carmen Tyson-Thomas finished a putback to give Syracuse a 68-67 advantage with 2:32 to go. The basket marked the Orange’s first lead since it led 3-2 in the opening minutes.

Following a bucket by Virginia’s Kelsey Wolfe, Tyson-Thomas got fouled on a layup after yet another offensive rebound. Tyson-Thomas made the first and missed the second, and the game was tied 69-69 with 1:56 remaining.

“I think down the stretch we got a couple stops,” Hillsman said. “That was the biggest thing. I thought everyone contributed.”

After Wolfe missed a layup on the other end, Hall drilled a clutch 3-pointer. Syracuse led 72-69 with 1:20 remaining.

Virginia cut SU’s advantage one with two free throws and Wolfe added two more from the line to retake the lead for the Cavaliers.

Then came Hall’s big free throws, as Syracuse escaped with a 74-73 win.

“Going into this situation we knew we had two very good games,” Hillsman said. “I knew that we would respond. I think overall we responded well. We came into these games expecting to win them.”

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