Women's Basketball

Temple dominates boards, overcomes 14-point halftime deficit to beat Syracuse 74-67

When a 14-point first-half lead disappears and ends in a seven-point defeat, the blame can be pointed at many different facets of the game.

But for Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman, the answer to his team’s collapse on Sunday lies in one statistic: rebounding.

“Temple rebounded well the entire game,” Hillsman said in a phone interview on Sunday. “They did a solid job. We got outrebounded.”

Syracuse fell 74-67 to Temple (5-2) in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon, being outscored by 21 in the second half after controlling the first 20 minutes. The loss was the first of the season for the Orange (7-1), and the final game of a seven-game road trip that included stops everywhere from Maine to Puerto Rico. Syracuse returns to the Carrier Dome on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. matchup with Wagner.

The Owls held a 48-32 rebounding advantage in the game, allowing them to get back in the game and ultimately earn the win. Center Kayla Alexander had nine rebounds for Syracuse, but only two defensively, and no other SU player had more than five.

By staying aggressive on the boards, the Owls kept Syracuse from getting the same second-chance opportunities that it enjoyed in previous games, Hillsman said.

“They did a better job than we did of boxing out,” Hillsman said. “It affected our second-chance opportunities, and it helped theirs.”

Temple held a 31-19 advantage on the defensive glass, and a 17-13 edge on the offensive end.

As Hillsman pointed out, the lack of rebounding prowess was the exception so far in SU’s season. In last Thursday’s 91-64 win at Dartmouth, the Orange held a 39-22 edge on the glass, holding the Big Green to seven total offensive boards. On the season, SU maintains an average rebounding edge of 6.6 per game.

It was the rare disadvantage for Syracuse on Sunday, though.

“We never lose games like that,” Hillsman said.

Already this season, the Orange has earned a series of impressive victories — by 41 points at St. Joseph’s, and back-to-back wins over Georgia Tech and Virginia in Puerto Rico. The impressive start earned Syracuse 30 votes in last week’s AP Top 25 poll.

That success helped the players keep their composure in the face of Sunday’s disappointing second half, Hillsman said.

“Temple made plays to win the game,” Hillsman said. “It’s a long year. We can’t let one game come and ruin our whole season.”

Four Orange players scored in double figures.

But on Sunday, the Owls just played better and rebounded better.

“We had to play solid just to stay in the game,” Hillsman said. “We’re in good shape, and we’ve done a good job resting kids. We just ran into a hungry team.”

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