Women's Basketball 2016 NCAA Tournament Sioux Falls Region Elite 8 Game Breakdowns


Sioux Falls Region Elite Eight Game Breakdown


#4 Syracuse vs. #7 Tennessee

Syracuse played fearlessly against top seeded South Carolina and they were rewarded for their efforts with an 80-72 victory over the Gamecocks. The backcourt of Alexis Peterson and Brianna Butler simply took over the game in the second half. The Orange played like they had been there before, even though this was the first trip to the Sweet 16 in program history. Peterson led Syracuse with 26 points on the night and was just flat out unstoppable at times. Butler chipped in 18 points and Brittney Sykes did a nice job inside, scoring 17 points and collecting nine rebounds. That production from Sykes, along with an ability to deny the ball to the inside players of South Carolina, really set the Orange up well for the decisive fourth quarter.


One of the main goals for Syracuse was to keep the game within striking distance heading into the fourth quarter. Mission accomplished as the Orange then wore down the Gamecocks and outscored them 30-16 in the final period. Defensively, Syracuse did a great job of forcing turnovers as they were plus eight in that category on the night. It is going to be very important for the Orange to do the same thing in the Elite Eight against Tennessee. The Lady Vols are in a very good rhythm offensively. In addition, the guard combination of Peterson and Butler are going to have to set the tone early at both ends of the court and get Syracuse off to a fast start in the first quarter to try and get Tennessee back on its heels.


Tennessee took advantage of a short-handed Ohio State team in the other regional semifinal. The Lady Vols defeated the Buckeyes by a score of 78-62. The overriding theme for Tennessee that has allowed them to be successful in this NCAA Tournament is confidence. This team is believing in themselves and the fact that they came into the NCAA Tournament as a number seven seed with zero expectations was a blessing in disguise for this program. With a significant advantage inside, Coach Holly Warlick got the ball in the hands of center Mercedes Russell early and often. Russell led the Lady Vols with 25 points and dominated the glass with 15 rebounds. Basharra Graves also was a key performer for Tennessee on Friday night and scored 14 points and collected nine rebounds. As a team, the Lady Vols outrebounded Ohio State 53-26 and outscored them in the paint by a 50-22 margin.


These two teams met earlier this season as Tennessee won 57-55 in Knoxville. It will be vital for the Lady Vols to bring it defensively and make the Syracuse backcourt duo off Peterson and Butler miserable for 40 minutes. If Tennessee can hold the Orange to around 30 percent shooting, they should be right there in the fourth quarter with a chance to win. Another key for Tennessee will be to cash in points off of turnovers and create easy scoring chances in the early stages of the contest. For Syracuse, they will need to be more efficient from the perimeter this time around against the Lady Vols. The Orange shot just 25 percent from behind the three-point line during the first matchup. A good target for Syracuse will be at around 35 percent from three-point range in order for them to advance on to the Final Four. This regional final is about as close to a tossup as you are going to get since both teams are playing at a very high level right now.



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Tournament Central