first_imgAlexis Peterson commanded the ball at the top of the key late in the second quarter Thursday night, scanning the court as the SU offense morphed in front of her. Briana Day scrambled through the defense to the high post, throwing her hands in the air as Peterson looked to squeeze a pass to her.Peterson fired the ball to Day, but it was both too high and too hard for Day to catch. The center flailed her right hand in the air, aimlessly trying to deflect the ball to a teammate. The ball caromed off of Day’s hand, but instead of flying to a teammate, floated into the hoop.The crowd’s volume rose, with nearly 1,000 spectators on their feet and the Orange bench in cheers.But Day simply turned and ran back into the Orange’s press, a stone-cold stare as she assumed her position after the in-bound pass. It was simply the kind of night she was having, where nearly every ball she touched turned to points for the Orange, and a night in which she broke a personal record.Day’s career-high 31 points carried the Orange (16-7, 7-3 Atlantic Coast) to a 93-65 victory over Pittsburgh (12-10, 3-6). It was Day’s second game this week with more than 20 points. Before Thursday’s game, the senior center received a white-painted ball at midcourt commemorating her 1,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds, the first-ever SU women’s player to hold both titles.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSenior guard Brittney Sykes said SU expects Day to come out and score every game, but Thursday night was an especially special outpouring from the center.“It’s really hard to guard a player like Briana Day,” Sykes said. “Not many posts are as athletic as she is and you really have to guard her because of how athletic she is.”Pitt tried to shut down SU’s backcourt, limiting looks from Sykes and Peterson, trying to contest shots and dribble drives. But once the duo got into the paint, Day thrived.On one drive, the Panthers’ defense flushed to the ball-handler, leaving Day wide open in the paint for a dump off. Sykes said she and Peterson told Day to “look for the dish” because they knew they could get the Pitt guards to step out of position.“When teams pay so much attention to Sykes and Peterson … and you force the post player to rotate and help, (Day) is there to clean it up,” Pitt head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said. “(Day) makes a killing around the rim, put-backs, offensive rebounds, she’s long and she’s athletic, quick off her feet.”When Day catches a pass, her go-to move is the up and under. When defenses take away her right hand, much like Pitt did Thursday night, she resorts to the up and under to score points and draw fouls.Day shot 7-for-7 from the free-throw line Thursday night. She was nearly perfect from the field, shooting 80 percent on 12-of-15.“When (Day’s) on the court, she’s phenomenal,” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said.When Day exited the game with 3:51 left, fans rose to their feet to deliver Day a standing ovation. Just as she had done after deflecting the two-point bucket into the hoop two periods earlier, Day stayed straight-faced, high-fiving her teammates as she found her spot on the bench to wait out the 93-65 victory.With the Orange’s 17th-straight home win, a commemorative ball waiting for Day in the locker room and 31 points, 14 rebounds and three steals to her name, Day had a performance to remember as she exited the court with a smile.“I’ve seen (Day) play for four years,” McConnell-Serio said. “Tonight, I think, is the best I’ve ever seen her play.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on February 2, 2017 at 10:50 pm Contact Matt: mjfel100@syr.edulast_img