first_img Published on February 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Chris: [email protected] | @chris_iseman Facebook Twitter Google+ It seems after every game Syracuse has played, Quentin Hillsman has had to explain why SU appeared to abandon its pressure defense. Hillsman always has the answer, often marked with frustration at his team’s offensive woes.When the Orange didn’t hit shots, it couldn’t set up the press.Finally, against Marquette, Syracuse controlled both ends of the floor. It drained shots from the outside and, perhaps most importantly, gave the Golden Eagles fits with its pressure defense.‘We knew that we needed to get into our pressure,’ Hillsman said. ‘But when you don’t score, you can’t press. Obviously, shooting 54 percent from the field allowed us to get into our pressure. I thought that was big for us.’Syracuse turned that hot shooting night into a defensive showcase, overwhelming Marquette’s offense with its full-court press to the tune of 21 forced turnovers in its 79-63 win Saturday in the Carrier Dome. The Orange scored a stellar 32 points off those turnovers, showcasing Hillsman’s season-long defensive game plan that has rarely been possible to implement.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange came into the game looking to increase its intensity at both ends of the floor. And its effective use of its press reflected that plan precisely.‘We were just real intense up top,’ guard Carmen Tyson-Thomas said. ‘A lot of energy, a lot of effort and we had our hands ready and were in the passing lanes. So we’re just getting after it.’Syracuse made it evident early that it was going to rely on its defense to help propel it to a win. That became especially important after Marquette started the game on a 6-0 run, prompting Hillsman to call a timeout to give Syracuse time to regroup and refocus on its game plan.A little more than five minutes into the game, Tyson-Thomas stole the ball away from Golden Eagles’ point guard Gabi Minix and passed it off to forward Iasia Hemingway, who dished it down low to center Kayla Alexander for a layup to pull SU within two.Barely 10 seconds later, Alexander stole the ball from Minix, leading to a jumper from guard Elashier Hall to tie the game at 6-6, and the Orange hit its defensive stride for the rest of the day.Guard Phylesha Bullard, who started in place of Tyson-Thomas, put on a defensive clinic at times. With just more than seven minutes elapsed in the second half, Bullard stole the ball away on an inbounds pass, then scored a fast-break layup to put Syracuse up 53-39.‘We knew we needed this game,’ Hall said, ‘so off the break we wanted to set the pace and get the momentum going for us.’When the Orange fell back into its zone, it still managed to frustrate MU’s offense but not nearly as successfully. With SU’s zone running smoothly, Marquette tried to beat Syracuse in the half court. In the first half, MU attempted six 3-pointers and hit three of them.After halftime, the Golden Eagles found its shooting stroke once again and drained four more 3-pointers. But the seven 3s Marquette sank weren’t enough to knock the Orange out of the game.Several times after MU grabbed a defensive rebound, its shooters raced back on offense and rushed shots to beat SU’s zone in transition, but most clanked off the rim. The Golden Eagles managed to get the deficit to four with less than 16 minutes to go in the second half, but that’s as close as they would get for the rest of the game.SU’s defense, specifically its press, was too tough to beat.‘I thought that at one point when we pulled the press off and went back to our zone, we got five straight stops and got it to 20, 22 points,’ Hillsman said. ‘And we came out, had some miscues and they just made some 3s.’The Orange needed this win coming off two straight losses to Notre Dame and Louisville. With its offense hitting shots from the outside, Syracuse was in perfect position to take advantage of its pressure defense.And against Marquette, it did so effectively, and it did so with a purpose.‘They were in the same mode we were in: desperation,’ Hillsman said. ‘We both needed this win, and obviously, our kids came out really competing.’[email protected]center_img Commentslast_img