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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (cuse.com) – The Syracuse women's basketball team's historic season came to an end on Tuesday night, falling 82-51 to No. 1 Connecticut in the NCAA Women's Basketball National Championship game. In a season of firsts, from its first Sweet 16 to its first National Championship appearance, the Orange garnered the most wins in program history, finishing with a 30-8 record.
The game also marked an end to the careers of the 2016 senior class, who finished with 99 wins, the most of any class in program history.
After UConn opened up as much as 35 point lead, Syracuse closed the gap to within 17 by using a 16-0 run in the third quarter, but the Huskies wouldn't let the Orange get any closer, claiming their fourth-straight NCAA Championship on Tuesday.
The Huskies struck first, jumping out to an early 7-0 lead in the first three minutes of play. Brittney Sykes opened up the scoring for the Orange, laying one but they trailed 9-2 with 6:04 left in the first. Sykes finished the game with 12 points for the Orange, earning All-Tournament Team honors.
Later in the first quarter, senior forward Taylor Ford knocked down a triple to bring the game to 23-9 with 1:56 to go in the period. In Syracuse's final possession of the quarter, senior guard Brianna Butler hit her first 3-pointer of the contest to head into the second trailing the Huskies, 28-13.
The Orange struggled to get something going in the second quarter with their first points of the quarter coming at the 6:33 mark from Sykes, making the score 34-15 UConn. Senior guard Cornelia Fondren knocked down a jumper and a lay-up on back-to-back possessions for Syracuse bring the score to 44-23. Fondren finished with a team-high 16 points on an efficient 6-of-10 shooting, hauling in three boards as well. The Huskies took a 50-23 lead into the locker room after Tournament Most Outstanding Player Breanna Stewart knocked down a jumper in the waning seconds of the half.
Sykes scored the only points for the Orange in the opening minutes of the second half, putting in two layups to bring the score to 58-27 with 6:51 on the clock in the third quarter. Fondren and Peterson combined for eight on the next few possessions for Syracuse, cutting the Huskies' lead to 60-35. Coming up big defensively, the Orange forced five turnovers and held UConn scoreless for five minutes of the third quarter. Syracuse went on a 16-0 run, forcing the Huskies to call a timeout as the Orange brought the score to 60-4, but that's as close as 'Cuse would get. UConn's Morgan Tuck laid one in at the buzzer, entering the final-10 minutes of play with the score at 64-43. Fondren tallied 10 points for the Orange in the third.
Peterson pulled up for a jumper to start the fourth for the Orange. Briana Day notched another two with a hook shot over UConn's Stewart. Day led the Orange on the glass with five rebounds in the contest. Fondren closed the Orange scoring with 3:35 left in the game on a jumper, before the Huskies closed the game on a 7-0 run to mark the final score at 82-51.
UConn shot 52-percent on the day, with Syracuse finishing the game at 35-percent from the field. The Huskies also garnered a large portion of points from the charity stripe, making 20-of-23 free throws in the game. Connecticut dominated the glass as well, out-rebounding Syracuse 43-27.
Syracuse showed its defensive pressure once again, forcing 17 UConn turnovers. 'Cuse turned all-six NCAA Tournament opponents over 17-or-more times.