Orange put away St. John's early behind Gobuty, Morrow

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Syracuse didn't let its heady success ruin its first game as a ranked team.

Freshman guard Erica Morrow scored 10 of her 14 points in the decisive first half, classmate Marisa Gobuty had eight points in a critical early run, and the 24th-ranked Orange beat St. John's 80-52 on Saturday.

Syracuse (16-3, 4-2 Big East) entered the rankings this week for the first time since the program started 37 years ago, and after a week's layoff the Orange picked up where they left off after beating Villanova 73-60 on the road.

Syracuse improved to 9-1 at home, the only blemish a 65-59 loss to top-ranked Connecticut in the Orange's last outing in the Carrier Dome 11 days earlier. Syracuse's only other losses were to No. 3 North Carolina in the second game of the season and No. 19 Pittsburgh on Jan. 9.

"When you're No. 24, it's scary," Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman said. "If we're No. 13, we could probably lose and go to No. 20. When you're No. 24, where do you go, No. 31? It was important for us to win to at least maintain where we are.

"I wanted to make sure when the game was over we were at least No. 24 in the country," Hillsman said. "That was a goal of ours. We talked about it before the game."

Syracuse overcame a sloppy start and ran away from the Red Storm (10-9, 1-5), who lost for the fourth straight time -- all to ranked opponents.

St. John's went up 4-0 in the first minute after Tiina Sten hit a layup and Kia Wright made two free throws. Then the Orange zone clamped down. The Red Storm missed eight straight shots and committed six turnovers as Syracuse scored eight points off the turnovers in a 14-0 run. Morrow had eight points and Chandrea Jones four in the spurt.

"In the first 10 minutes, we had a lot of shots, but we didn't make them," St. John's coach Kim Barnes Arico said. "We should have been up 8-2 on layups. After we didn't make some shots, we started turning the ball over, and once we turned the ball over they scored. That's when the lead started to get really bad. They're very aggressive."

Consecutive 3-pointers by Kelly McManmon rallied St. John's to within 16-12 midway through the period before the Orange took control with an 11-2 run.

After Jones missed three times in a row under the basket during one frustrating possession, Gobuty hit a 3 from right wing and a baseline jumper in a 39-second span.

Jones followed with a turnaround jumper in the lane and Gobuty drained a long 3 from right wing off a steal by Tracy Harbut to give Syracuse a 35-18 lead with 4:08 left in the half.

Morrow's pullup jumper in the waning seconds gave the Orange a 42-24 halftime lead. Syracuse had 17 points off 12 turnovers, outscored the Red Storm 11-2 on fast breaks, and held them to 29.6 percent shooting (8-for-27) in the half.

Nicole Michael led Syracuse with 20 points, 14 in the second half, and Jones had 16 points and 11 rebounds.

Sten paced St. John's with 11 points and Wright had eight. Monique McLean, the Red Storm's leading scorer at 14 points per game, missed all four of her shots from the floor and finished with a season-low two points.

"They're quick and athletic, and their hands are all over the place," said Wright, who was 3-for-12 shooting. "When I tried to drive, I always had somebody around me. It was very frustrating. If we want to win games, we can't let teams come out off the bat and throw us under the mat."

St. John's lost any chance for a rally when Syracuse scored the first three baskets of the second half to go up by 24 points. Vaida Sipaviciute hit a basline jumper and Morrow converted two layups to put the Orange up 48-24 at 18:52.

Saturday's attendance was 3,223, the seventh-largest home crowd in school history. Five of the other six, including a record 4,221 in the previous game against UConn, came in games against the Huskies.

"It's great. A lot more people are coming out and supporting us," Morrow said. "We just want to keep winning. Playing at home is tough just like playing on the road is tough, but when you have the support of the fans, it makes it that much easier for us."