SYRACUSE — The Syracuse Titans love to run.
They play their best basketball when they're able to move the ball up and down the court, run hard, pass quickly and score points.
Opponents, however, hope the key to beating the undefeated squad is in slowing the top-ranked Titans down.
"We love to play that up-tempo style," said Syracuse coach Rob Reisbeck after the Titans defeated Layton 48-38 Tuesday night. "We need these kinds of tough games."
In the first half, Layton was more effective in slowing the game's pace and disrupting the Titan offense.
"It takes us out of our rhythm," said Reisbeck. "But we can play the slow-down game if we have to."
The Titans are deep, but not just in talent.
"We have a lot of kids who work hard," he said. "We're going to play four quarters of basketball."
At halftime the Lancers were very much in the game, trailing by just one point 19-18. But in the second half, the Titans full-court pressure began to lead to turnovers and fast breaks for Syracuse. By the end of the third quarter, Syracuse led 37-24.
"Their defense wears you down," said Layton coach Van Price. "You've got to be deep, or it just wears you down in the second half."
The Lancers also played tough defense, but couldn't manage to contain junior Brittney Martin, who finished with a game-high 30 points. Not only can Martin shoot from anywhere, handle the ball or rebound with the most physical post players, she's got an eye for the court and a knack for passing.
"If you make them play the half-court game, then I think almost anybody can play with them," Price said. "When they can play that full-court game, it always gets you."
The loss means the Lancers enter the tournament as the fourth-place team in Region 1. They will play Pleasant Grove in Layton on Saturday for a 5A State Tournament berth.
Price said he "feels good" about the team's ability to compete at state as they have all of their varsity players back and healthy.
The offense of the Lancers benefited significantly from the return of Addi Moore. She led the team's scoring with 16 points, including four 3-pointers..9 comments on this story
Syracuse point guard Hailee Parry said she's not bothered by the pressure — or the role of team leader.
"I think I'm a natural leader," said Parry, who runs the offense and delivers the pep talks when necessary. "I can yell at them."
She said the Titans aren't worried about their record or anyone's expectations but their own.
"We don't care," she said with a shrug. "We have goals that we set. I think we're excited to go into next week. It will be a fun tournament."