SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Freshman Brittney Sykes and senior Kayla Alexander each scored 16 points and No. 24 Syracuse snapped a late-season swoon, beating 13th-ranked Louisville 68-57 on Monday night.
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for Syracuse (23-6, 11-5 Big East) and gave the Orange the third seed and a double-bye for the Big East tournament as they seek their first NCAA bid since 2008.
The Orange are seeded behind Notre Dame and Connecticut, while Louisville (23-7, 11-5) dropped to the fourth spot and fell to 1-4 against ranked teams, also losing to Kentucky, UConn and Notre Dame. Louisville will also get a double-bye in the conference tournament.
Syracuse, coming off its first defeat at home this season, a 77-75 triple-overtime loss to Villanova Saturday, finished 13-1 in the Carrier Dome.
Senior Carmen Tyson-Thomas had 10 points and 12 rebounds and senior Elashier Hall added 10 points and six steals.
Shoni Schimmel led Louisville with 19 points and Jude Schimmel had 12, while Sara Hammond and Antonita Slaughter each scored eight points.
Syracuse broke open a tight game with a pressing defense and some clutch outside shooting.
After Shoni Schimmel hit an open 3 to tie the game at 34 early in the second half, a three-point play by Alexander and Cornelia Fondren's driving layup — her only shot of the game — gave Syracuse a 39-38 lead and began a 19-4 spurt that sank the Cardinals.
Alexander's layup and Tyson-Thomas's 3 off a nice feed from Fondren stretched the lead to 44-38. Rachel Coffey followed with another 3, Tyson-Thomas hit a foul-line jumper and Hall swished a 3 from the wing to boost the lead to 53-38 with 8:44 left.
Louisville went scoreless for more than 8 minutes as the game slipped away. After Jude Schimmel's steal and layup at 15:00, the Cardinals didn't score again until Bria Smith's layup at 6:34, missing eight shots and committing two turnovers.
The Cardinals made it close at the end, closing to 60-56 after a pair of 3s by Shoni Schimmel and a layup by Jude Schimmel as Syracuse misfired at the free-throw line. That was as close as the Cardinals came as the Orange hit six free throws and Alexander converted a layup in the final 63 seconds.
Syracuse, the league's best defender against the 3-point shot, was victimized early by the Cardinals as Slaughter hit her first two tries from behind the arc, giving Louisville an early 8-3 lead.
That was a sign of things to come for both sides in the first half. After Syracuse erased a five-point deficit with an 11-5 spurt keyed by 3-pointers from Hall, Tyson-Thomas and Brianna Butler, Shoni Schimmel responded with two 3-pointers in the final 88 seconds to give the Cardinals a 29-27 halftime lead.
Louisville was 5 of 14 (35.7 percent) and Syracuse 5 of 11 (45.5 percent) from beyond the arc in the opening period. The Orange entered the game allowing just 26.8 percent, while Louisville was second in the league at 28 percent.
The Cardinals finished 8 of 32 and the Orange were 8 of 22 from long range. Syracuse also dominated the glass, outrebounding Louisville 47-34 and held a 17-7 edge in second-chance points.
Follow Kekis on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Greek1947