Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ It worked out exactly how Quentin Hillsman wanted it to.After the Syracuse head coach learned his team would be playing in the Women’s National Invitation Tournament on March 12, Hillsman hoped the Orange would play all of its games on the road, away from the distractions of home.‘I was hoping that it wouldn’t backfire on us because I knew that we could go out and it could go either way,’ Hillsman said, ‘but to their credit they embraced it, and I think that being on the road has made us a stronger basketball team.’The Orange (22-14) began its road journey in the first round of the WNIT in Hartford, Conn., and the trip has worked out perfectly thus far for Hillsman and his players. SU has survived four elimination games in nine days to advance to the WNIT semifinals, in which it will take on James Madison (28-7) in Harrisonburg, Va., at 7 p.m. Wednesday.It was the first time in 22 years Syracuse captured four consecutive road victories, dating back to the 1990-91 season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange opened the tournament with a 59-42 win at Hartford on March 16. Three days later, Syracuse trounced Drexel 65-43 and emerged victorious again in Philadelphia last Thursday with an 82-68 win over Temple.Syracuse’s players and staff then traveled to Toledo, Ohio, last Friday. They had less than a day to prepare for their matchup with the Rockets.‘It was just more so us being mentally focused and coach Q just letting us know this is a business,’ forward Iasia Hemingway said. ”You know we’re going to be traveling a lot, but just stay focused, and I know you’re all tired, but don’t give up because we are a good team and we’re playing well and we don’t want to come up short.”Trailing by five with 2:10 remaining in the second half, a newfound unity and resiliency surfaced to carry the Orange to victory. First, Syracuse point guard Rachel Coffey hit a fadeaway 3-pointer with 2.4 seconds left to send the game into overtime.And in the extra session, with SU’s two centers off the court due to foul trouble, reserve forward Troya Berry nailed what proved to be the game-winning free throw.‘With Rachel hitting that big shot, we were like, ‘Let’s just take this home,” Hemingway said. ‘That 3 was meant for a reason. It was meant for us to win for a reason and everything happens for a reason, so fortunately we got the win.’The road trip also led to a change in Hillsman’s coaching style. The SU head coach said he has learned to not overanalyze certain situations and to loosen the reins on his players to a degree, allowing them ‘to do their thing’ and to save their legs.The road also enabled the coaches to break down film with the players without any disturbance, as they had nowhere else to be.After Saturday’s win over Toledo, Syracuse returned home before getting ready to leave for Virginia.Now, only two games stand in the path of the Orange capturing the WNIT crown.‘When you’re out for that long period of time and you’re in the environments that we’ve been in, you have to band together and lean on each other,’ Hillsman said. ‘Secondly, because they’re playing so well they have the confidence in each other.’The next chapter of Syracuse’s tournament run leads the Orange to the JMU Convocation Center, a hostile environment that Hillsman deemed ‘eerie’ because the band sits right over the court.But if SU has proven anything in the WNIT, it’s that it embraces challenges. If the Orange can stretch its road winning streak to five, just one obstacle stands in its way of earning the tournament title.‘We just know that we need to come out strong and do the same things that we do at home,’ SU guard Carmen Tyson-Thomas said. ‘We’re not reluctant to be playing on the road at all, so we’re just looking forward to it.’email@example.com Published on March 27, 2012 at 12:00 pm
“It’s huge, man. Magic is a mentor of mine, somebody I look up to,” Paul said. “His basketball production was unbelievable so be mentioned in anything with him is huge and an honor.”He scored 12 straight points for the Clippers in the final 3:41 to hold off another late charge from the Wolves and break out of a six-game slump in which he was hitting just 35 percent of his shots. “It’s just cool to see the ball go through the net,” Paul said. “I’ll take it whenever. Fourth quarter is winning time and we’re all competitive, but as the leader of the team, me and Blake, we know that’s when it’s time to win.”Kevin Martin had 28 points and 10 rebounds and Nikola Pekovic had 20 points and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves. But Love managed just 10 points on 2-for-14 shooting to go with 12 rebounds for the Wolves, who have lost two straight to start a tough stretch of five games in seven nights. “We were just tired, I think, and it’s not getting any easier heading forward,” said Love, whose Wolves host Brooklyn on Friday night before trips to Houston and Indiana. “Nights happen like that and you just try to fight through it. I was a little frustrated. I was getting slammed out there.”Jamal Crawford scored 16 points for the Clippers, who made 12 of 24 3-pointers and held the Wolves to 37.8 percent shooting. The Clippers led by 11 points with seven minutes to play in the game, a 12-3 surge by the Wolves cut the deficit to 84-82 with 4:34 to play. But Griffin hit a 21-foot jumper and Paul, who had just four points in the game’s first 43 minutes, converted a three-point play, hit a 3 from the wing and added a 15-foot jumper and a 19-footer to help the Clippers seal it. “That’s why he’s a superstar and one of the best point guards in this league,” Martin said. “He got hot at the end and he’s capable of doing that. We did everything we could do to try to force him to miss shots, and unfortunately for them he didn’t.”In a matchup of two of the best power forwards in the league, Griffin and Love spent the first half essentially playing each other to an underwhelming draw. They combined to shoot 4 for 17 before Griffin made his move in the third. He scored 14 points in the quarter, often going right at Love and scoring any way he wanted. Layups, jumpers, nifty spin moves in the post. It was all on display for a player who has put everything together in the past 10 days. Griffin came into the game averaging 25 points and 11.3 rebounds per game over his previous four, and he showed vastly improved defense on Wednesday night as well. He had two blocks and two steals, frustrating Love all the way. “I think for the first time, I don’t know if it was from being tired, shot wasn’t falling or they were getting away with a lot, my emotions got the best of me,” said Love, who was 0 for 4 in the second half and had eight assists. “But that happens to people every now and then. I just tried to get myself going in other ways.” Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error MINNEAPOLIS >> Blake Griffin and Kevin Love had been duking it out for 3 1/2 quarters, and Chris Paul was content to watch two of the best power forwards in the game pound away at each other. When the two big guys started to tire from the grueling duel, the little man took over and finished off the Minnesota Timberwolves. Griffin had 20 points and 10 rebounds to win his matchup with Love and Paul scored 16 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Clippers to a 102-98 victory over the Timberwolves on Wednesday night.Paul finished with 20 points and 11 assists for his 12th straight double-double to open the season, breaking Magic Johnson’s previous mark of 11 straight in 1990-91.