Syracuse beat Washington 80-59 on Sunday at the Final Four to advance to its first national championship. Here's how the Orange did it.
How the game was won: The Syracuse strategy in any game is to create more turnovers than the opposition, shoot -- and subsequently make more 3-pointers than the other team -- and win the offensive rebounding battle. The Orange could not have executed the plan any better in beating the Huskies, Syracuse was simply more active and more aggressive than Washington. The Orange's pressure defense created 18 turnovers, and Syracuse made 12 3-pointers and grabbed 17 offensive rebounds to Washington's four.
Player of the game: On a night when nine Orange players scored, Brittney Sykes scored some of their biggest points. The redshirt junior scored seven of Syracuse's first 10 points when they took a 10-3 lead and Syracuse never trailed. She also hit a key pull-up jumper and a free throw in a pivotal second-half run that put the game away. Sykes finished with 17 points and four rebounds.
Player of the game II: Talia Walton. The 6-foot-2 senior was the lone bright spot for Washington. She made a Final Four-record eight 3-pointers on nine attempts. Walton finished with a game-high 29 points on 10-of-15 shooting overall.
Player of the game III: Alexis Peterson led the Orange with 18 points and six assists. She also spearheaded the Syracuse press that completely took Washington's Kelsey Plum out of the game. Plum was 5-of-18 from the field and committed six turnovers. She managed 17 points and passed Lisa Leslie for fourth on the Pac-12 all-time scoring list.
Turning point: The Huskies quickly saw a 12-point halftime deficit bulge to 17 to start the second half, but a quick 6-0 burst gave them their first momentum of the game. That was short-lived. Syracuse had the immediate answer, scoring the game's next 12 points. The sequence that capped the run epitomized the entire night. Peterson, off a double-screen that Washington switched on, used a hesitation dribble to blow right by Chantel Osahor. Syracuse, as it did all night, pressed and harassed Plum for a full 94 feet until she double dribbled. Sykes made a free throw at the other end and the Orange never looked back.
Stat of the game: Six different Syracuse players made a 3-pointer and the Orange made 12 of 33 overall from deep. Brianna Butler made four of those to get to 128 for the year, which is a new NCAA single-season record.
Stat of the game II: The Orange's goal of getting up more shots than their opponent without regard for field goal percentage also worked. The took 71 shots to Washington's 52. Syracuse shot 42.3 percent for the game.
X factor: Syracuse's pressure dictated the entire game. The Huskies never could adjust in the second half and committed as many turnovers (nine) after halftime as they did in the first 20 minutes. Plum was either double-teamed with a trap or face-guarded by Peterson most of the game.