Butler leads Syracuse to win over Texas A&M, Paradise Jam title

first_imgBrianna Butler’s early-season shooting woes are a thing of the past.On Saturday night, Butler scored a career-high 29 points and led the Orange (8-0) to a 78-63 upset victory over No. 12 Texas A&M (4-2), clinching the Paradise Jam Reef Division title. The victory concluded a clean sweep for SU in the U.S. Virgin Islands, as the Orange won three games in three days. With the victory, Syracuse is in good position to earn a top 25 ranking when the Associated Press releases its updated poll on Monday. “It’s a huge win for our program,” Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said in an interview with Orange All Access. “We talked about it and knew (Texas A&M) was a team that has recently won a national championship. We had a great chance to come in and do a great job just being solid and playing team basketball, and we did that and won the game.”Butler averaged 23.3 points over the three games and was awarded tournament most valuable player honors. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEarly in the first half against the Aggies, Syracuse found 6-foot-3 center Shakeya Leary. The senior scored the team’s first eight points, but the Orange trailed 12-8. SU took its first lead of the game just over 12 minutes into the action. Sophomore guard Brittney Sykes hit a layup to give the Orange an 18-17 advantage. Although she finished with a game-high 29 points, it took Butler more than nine minutes to find the score sheet. The sophomore guard hit a jump shot at the 10:35 mark to give the Orange a 22-17 lead.Butler hit her first 3-pointer with 4:06 remaining in the first half to extend Syracuse’s lead to 33-24, its largest lead to that point. With 1:27 left in the half, Butler hit another 3 to bump the lead to 10 at 36-26. Phylesha Bullard hit two free throws before the conclusion of the half, and the Orange went into the break ahead 38-27.In the opening minutes of the second half, the Orange quickly turned its 11 point lead into 16. Butler began the stretch with a 3 to open the half. “After I hit my first three, going into the second half I felt more confident,” Butler said in an interview with Orange All Access. “I just knew every shot I took was going to go in and I just felt more confident each time.”From 11:44 to 9:16 of the second half, Butler couldn’t be stopped. The guard hit back-to-back 3s, a layup, and another 3 to extend the Syracuse lead to 66-48.“We got the ball to her early and often and she made shots,” Hillsman said. “When you get in a position when you get up and down the floor, when you get her good looks, she’s going to make those shots.”It wasn’t all Butler, though. In the final ten minutes of the second half, five players scored for the Orange. Baskets from Sykes, Bullard, and Leary and free throws from Rachel Coffey helped fend off Texas A&M.Sykes finished with 15 points and Leary added 14, and the entire SU team combined to shoot 46.7 percent from the floor.“I think today, and in the tournament, we proved that what we’re doing in practice is paying off,” Butler said. “… It’s an amazing feeling to be 8-0 and playing great teams and playing great basketball.” Comments Published on December 1, 2013 at 1:21 pm Contact Josh: [email protected] Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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