Huskies magical run to Final Four ends in national semifinals
Alexis Peterson scored 18 points and Brittney Sykes added 17 to help Syracuse roll past Washington 80-59 and into the program’s first women’s national championship game.
The Orange (30-7) will face UConn, the three-time defending champions, on Tuesday night in Indianapolis. The Huskies set a semifinal round record with a 29-point victory over Pac-12 champion Oregon State in the early game.
Syracuse made it look almost as easy.
Washington (26-11) was led by Talia Walton, who had 29 points and made a Final Four record eight 3-pointers. The previous record of six was set by Katie Steding in the 1990 title game and matched in 2013 by Antonita Slaughter. Kelsey Plum, the nation’s No. 3 scorer, had 17 points.
But Syracuse rode its defense and took a 23-12 lead after one quarter, extended the lead to 39-20 midway through the second quarter and never let the Huskies get within single digits again.
The story line looked awfully familiar.
In their first meeting this season, Syracuse built a 21-point lead before Washington rallied to within one. The Orange held on for a 66-62 victory.
This time, Syracuse never let it get that close.
When Washington cut the halftime deficit to 43-31, Peterson hit a 3 to start a 9-4 spurt that made it 52-35. When the Huskies got within 11, Syracuse used a 15-2 run to make it 67-43. And when Washington closed to 72-59 midway through the fourth quarter, Sykes and Brianna Butler made back-to-back 3s to seal it.
Now the Orange will try to prevent their former Big East foe, UConn, from winning a fourth straight national title and finishing another perfect season.
The two teams came into the night averaging 16.2 3-pointers. They nearly matched that total in the first half and wound up combining for 23. Syracuse made 12 and broke UConn’s 15-year-old record most 3-point attempts in a Final Four game. UConn had 31 in a semifinal game against Notre Dame. Washington finished 11 of 25. Until Sunday, only two teams had ever made 11 in a Final Four game.
Syracuse: Butler scored 12 points and Cornelia Fondren had 10. … Butler broke Kelsey Mitchell’s NCAA single-season record for 3-pointers made. Mitchell, of Ohio State, had 127 last season. Butler has 128 this season. … The Orange outrebounded Washington 46-28 and had a 20-9 scoring advantage off of turnovers.
Washington: Plum fell eight points short of breaking Chiney Ogwumike’s Pac-12 single-season record (967). … Chantel Osahor scored only 3 points on 1-of-6 shooting but grabbed 14 rebounds. … The Huskies had 18 turnovers after being forced into 19 in the first meeting. … Coach Mike Neighbors spent the final 15 seconds of the game shaking hands with Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman, who are friends.