Reserve center Leary capitalizes for Orange, fires SU to 75-59 win against Providence

first_img Related Stories Tyson-Thomas rejuvenates already-stellar press, helps Orange to 75-59 win against Providence Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 2, 2013 at 6:11 pm Contact Trevor: [email protected] | @TrevorHasscenter_img Playing behind Syracuse’s all-time leading scorer Kayla Alexander doesn’t leave many minutes for reserve center Shakeya Leary.Leary only averages 11 minutes per game, while Alexander plays close to 27 per contest.But Saturday afternoon, though Leary only played 13 minutes, she made the most of her time. Leary finished with six points on 3-of-5 shooting, igniting a 19-10 spurt by the Orange heading into halftime. After that explosive run, Syracuse (18-3, 6-2 Big East) never looked back, defeating Providence (6-15, 1-7) 75-59 at the Carrier Dome on Saturday.“Shakeya’s a great player,” said SU head coach Quentin Hillsman. “She’s a very good scorer. I think she makes Kayla better every day because of what she can do when she gets the ball in her hands.”Syracuse looked stagnant offensively early in the game, and let the Friars hang around. The Orange was shooting just 7-of-25 from the field and needed a spark off the bench.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhen Leary checked in with 7:07 to go in the half, SU got that spark. She snatched a rebound off a missed 3 by PC’s Danielle Pearson. Leary fired an outlet pass to Brianna Butler, who found a wide-open Pachis Roberts, who drilled a 3 to extend Syracuse’s lead to 24-16.Less than a minute later, Leary caught the ball in the post and froze momentarily. She sized up 6-foot-1 defender Alexis Harris, planning out her attack.Leary faked left, spun right and lofted the ball over Harris’ outstretched arm. Swish.“’Keya is a good player,” Alexander said. “She can play inside, outside. She can beat you off the bounce. She can hit the jumper.”The 6-foot-3 center showcased her jumper less than two minutes later. After catching a pass from Roberts inside, Leary made a quicker move this time, draining the shot as Syracuse claimed a 30-19 lead with 4:05 left in the half.The bucket gave SU its first double-digit lead of the game, and the Orange finally distanced itself from a pesky Providence team.Alexander fills up the stat sheet for SU, but Hillsman said Leary plays valuable minutes off the bench for the Orange.“Shakeya’s probably the unluckiest player right now in the country playing behind a great post player,” Hillsman said.Entering Saturday’s game, Leary and Alexander had identical field-goal percentages, both shooting an efficient 52.9 percent. Though Syracuse’s two centers rarely play at the same time, the duo complements each other nicely. When Alexander takes a breather, Leary is right there to pick up the slack.“They’re a great duo,” Hillsman said. “It’s not a big drop off when you sub her in. As a matter of fact, I don’t think there is a drop off. When you look at her numbers and what she does with her minutes on the floor, it’s phenomenal.”After two free throws by Providence’s Symone Roberts with 1:28 left in the first half, Leary went back to work. Butler delivered a pinpoint dime right into Leary’s hands, and Syracuse’s center laid it up and in for two. The basket highlighted a 10-2 run by the Orange to close the half, as Providence looked out of whack, strugging to contain SU.Leary played the final seven minutes of the first half for SU, as Alexander sat on the bench. After holding a slim five-point advantage when she entered, the Orange led 40-26 heading into halftime.Syracuse has certainly shown its ability to make runs with Alexander on the court. But with the spurt late in the first half Saturday, it proved it could dominate other teams without its star in the lineup.“I like it when ‘Keya comes into the game,” Alexander said. “I just watch her do work on people, so I enjoy it.”Syracuse’s seventh-leading scorer with 5.1 points per game, Leary has been a spark for the Orange all season. Providing a punch with valuable minutes Saturday, she played one of her most complete games of the year.But Leary deflected any credit.“I’m just happy we got the win,” Leary said. “That’s the only thing that matters.” Commentslast_img

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