Morrow's season-high 24 lift Syracuse past Marquette

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Eight days after its first-ever loss as a ranked team, Syracuse desperately needed a victory to keep its magical season intact, and Erica Morrow delivered.

The freshman guard scored a season-high 24 points, Fantasia Goodwin had nine points and 14 rebounds and the Orange (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP) held off Marquette 70-67 on Sunday.

"Coming off of a loss, you always want to come back," said Morrow, who also had four assists and two steals. "We lost to the last-place team [at the time] in the conference, so I'm sure we had our doubters. Just to come back at home and show everyone we're still one of the top teams in the country, that was a sign for all of us to play harder and get the win."

Syracuse (18-4, 6-3 Big East), coming off a loss at Georgetown, overcame a sloppy start and held off a late challenge by Marquette (13-10, 5-5) to go to 10-1 at home. The victory kept the Orange tied for fifth in the conference with Notre Dame (No. 17 ESPN/USA Today, No. 16 AP), which handed No. 15 Pitt only its second conference loss of the season on Sunday.

The Orange, in the rankings for the first time in the program's 37-year history, are seeking just their fourth NCAA tournament berth.

"I still think we have to win a couple more games to secure everything. I still believe we have some work to do," coach Quentin Hillsman said. "People are really playing well in our conference, beating people on their home floors. I don't believe we're definitely in."

After an abysmal start that featured 15 turnovers in the first 12 minutes, Syracuse rallied to build a 36-26 lead at the break. The Orange boosted the margin to 52-38 on a fastbreak layup by Vionca Murray with 13:50 remaining and appeared well on the way to another victory.

Krystal Ellis, who missed her first seven shots from beyond the arc, had other ideas. She finally hit a 3 from left wing at 13:21 to begin a 20-5 run that gave the Golden Eagles the lead. Courtney Weibel contributed five points, Ellis converted four straight free throws, and a fastbreak layup by Jocelyn Mellen put Marquette up 58-57 with 7:08 left.

"We have fight in us," Marquette coach Terri Mitchell said. "We have periods in the game where we have breakdowns, but we came back strong. Even though it's still a 10-point game, we kept talking about it at each timeout, our goals, where we wanted to get it [the score]. We kept meeting every goal."

A rebound and layup by Goodwin and a 3 from right wing by Morrow moved Syracuse back in front 64-58, but the Golden Eagles regained the lead at 65-64 on a layup by Svetlana Kovalenko with 3:33 left.

Four free throws by Murray gave Syracuse a 69-65 lead with 2:33 left. Ellis then converted a fastbreak layup with 68 seconds remaining to make it a two-point game, but the Orange held on despite not making a basket in the final 5:42.

Goodwin pulled down three critical rebounds in the final 2:19 and blocked Angel Robinson's layup attempt with 3 seconds left.

"After a stop, you've got to get the rebound," Hillsman said. "That's the most important thing. We did a really good job."

Thanks to Goodwin, who helped Syracuse finish with a 48-34 edge on the boards.

"We've got scorers on the team, my thing is rebounding," said the 5-foot-10 Goodwin, who had a career-high 25 against Saint Peter's earlier in the season. "I knew how important this game was. I tried to get every rebound. I went after it like coach asked me to."

"That was the deciding factor of the game," Hillsman said of Goodwin's final rebound. "She flat-out took the ball from the kid."

Chandrea Jones had 10 points and nine rebounds, Nicole Michael had 10 points and eight rebounds and Murray finished with eight points for the Orange.

Ellis led Marquette with 16 points but had an awful game shooting, going 5-for-19 and 2-for-11 on 3-pointers. Kovalenko finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, and Robinson had 10 points, seven rebounds and five assists.