first_img Published on December 19, 2014 at 9:01 pm Contact Josh: [email protected] Comments WINTER PARK, Fla. — After making just two of her first 11 shots, Brianna Butler made her way to the Syracuse bench and head coach Quentin Hillsman followed her.As Butler subbed out for the second time in the game’s first 11 minutes, Hillsman gave his small forward an earful, yelling inches from her face. When Butler finally sat, Hillsman crouched down and continued to shout at Butler as the game continued.Within moments, Butler was in tears.“That was personal. A private moment between me and her,” Hillsman said. “I didn’t get on her at all.”Despite a bad shooting performance from its go-to player, No. 19 Syracuse (8-2) went down to the wire with No. 9 Baylor (9-1) on Friday inside Warden Arena in the opening game of the Florida Sunshine Classic in Winter Park, Florida. Syracuse held a marginal lead late in the second half until Bears guard Niya Johnson hit a jumper with 1:02 to go, the last points in a 74-72 Baylor victory.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter losing 67-63 to No. 1 South Carolina on Nov. 28, Friday’s game marked another close loss for Syracuse against a national powerhouse.“I thought that for about 36 minutes, we were the better team,” Hillsman said. “For four minutes when it was time to win the game, Baylor came out and won.”It was an all-around poor night for Butler, who shot 6-of-24 from the field — 2-of-15 in the first half and 4-of-16 from 3 overall — yet finished with 16 points. Syracuse’s second-leading scorer also missed two 3s in the final minute and a half of regulation.“At any point in the game when I shoot the ball, I shoot with confidence and feel as if everything’s going in,” Butler said. “Whether it be in the beginning of the game or the end of the game, I shoot the ball the same way. They just didn’t fall today.”Over an hour before the game, Hillsman pulled aside senior guard Diamond Henderson and told her she needed to have a strong performance. She responded, combining with point guard Alexis Peterson to keep the Orange in striking distance despite Butler’s struggles. Henderson finished with 27 points, and Peterson added 16 points and five assists.The Orange held a 29-26 lead at halftime, but the lead changed hands six times before Henderson fed Peterson for a game-tying basket with 7:44 left. And with SU trailing 58-57 moments later, the senior made two free throws to put the Orange ahead.“Whether (Butler) is making shots or missing shots, we’re all going to play our role,” Henderson said. “Tonight I saw some opportunities to attack, and that’s what I did. Some of them went in.”Then Butler, in response to her poor first half, hit a 3 with 6:25 to go to give the Orange a 62-58 lead.“In the second half I was able to slow down, catch myself, and be able to just shoot without thinking too much,” Butler said.Peterson and Henderson continued to carry SU down the stretch. Henderson found forward Briana Day inside for a layup to put SU up, 68-64 and Peterson then hit two free throws to give SU a 70-66 lead.But even as timely scoring gave Syracuse hope, Butler couldn’t find any rhythm. The junior’s missed 3s in the waning moments — the first with the score tied at 72, the second with the Orange trailing by two — prevented the Orange from recapturing a lead it held tenuously late in the second half.And even while struggling, Hillsman designed a play for Butler on the game’s final possession. He called timeout with 17 seconds left on the clock and the Orange down, 74-72.Butler didn’t have a shot, though, and instead passed to Peterson, who tried a layup from the left side that hung on the rim but rolled off, and the Orange’s effort to overcome Butler’s poor night fell with it.“We got exactly what we wanted. We got the ball into (Butler’s) hands,” Hillsman said. “ … I just keep waiting, and I keep saying it, because it happened last year around this time. We kept having this conversation, and she ended up shooting like 65 percent for the rest of the season from beyond the arc.“It’s coming. It’s coming.”center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more