Alexis Peterson’s teammates nicknamed her ‘Savage Lex’ and it’s fit this postseason

first_img Published on March 26, 2016 at 10:42 pm Contact Paul: [email protected] | @pschweds SIOUX FALLS, S.D — Alexis Peterson glanced up at the scoreboard and knew the opportunity she had. Advance to Syracuse’s first-ever Elite Eight. Be one win from the Final Four. Prove to the nation the Orange belong on this stage after beating two double-digit seeds in the first two rounds. Tied at 61 with five minutes left, it was all there for the taking.And Peterson, the Orange’s point guard, grabbed command of the ball and the game.“After the last game we played, I said, ‘I trust you, I need the ball in your hands,’” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “‘We have other good players on this team, but I trust you. Go get the ball.’”“I didn’t have to tell her. She went and got the ball and got control of the game down the stretch.”Peterson has been on fire in No. 4 seed Syracuse’s (28-7, 13-3 Atlantic Coast) historic NCAA tournament run. After averaging 14.5 points in the regular season, she’s scored 18, 19, 19, 24, 22 and 26 in the six games since. Her quickness to get to the hoop and ability to control the game from the top of the key has sparked SU and is something the Orange will need when it faces No. 7 seed Tennessee (22-13, 8-8 Southeastern) on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in the Denny Sanford Premier Center with a Final Four berth on the line.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAfter emerging as Syracuse’s starting point guard as a sophomore last year, her teammates began calling her “Savage Lex.” In this year’s postseason the first-team all-ACC player has continued living up to the nickname.“Being a savage means you get it done by any means,” Peterson said. “… When you go and make the plays and get it done and take it to them, we just have that savage chemistry. It’s like The Hunger Games. That’s what we consider it.”To start Syracuse’s NCAA tournament run, Peterson scored 10 of the Orange’s first 13 points in its Round of 64 matchup with Army. Five free throws, a layup and a 3-pointer within four and a half minutes.Late in the third quarter after Albany inched within nine, Peterson drove and finished a floater in the lane. On the Great Danes’ next possession, SU’s pressure rattled Imani Tate, who travelled in front of the junior point guard. Peterson turned toward Syracuse’s bench, flexed her arms and let out a yell.When the Gamecocks looked to make one final push with 14 seconds left and down by five, Peterson stepped up again. Bianca Cuevas brought the ball up, but Peterson pinned her along the sideline. Cuevas had no other choice but to step out of bounds because of where Peterson forced her.While her regular season performance has backed up the nickname this season, she’s embodied the nickname and then some in the NCAA Tournament.“The more she’s become the person she is today, the more savage-like she’s been,” former roommate and teammate Diamond Henderson said.The nickname originated from Peterson’s style on the defensive end. But during her dominant streak, she’s expanded her aggressiveness on offense, too.At the conclusion of the regular season, Syracuse’s post players were instructed to change the angle in which they set ball screens. As a result, Peterson is in a better position to curl around them, get straight-line driving opportunities and attack the basket while dribbling “downhill.”“When someone can shoot the 3 and they can penetrate, they’re quick with the basketball, they’re difficult to guard,” Tennessee head coach Holly Warlick said. “I think she’s all of that. She took that team on her back (against South Carolina).”Syracuse assistant coach Tammi Reiss said point guard is the most important position on the court. And when that player can do so many different things, it makes everyone else on the team better. Reiss said Peterson rises to every occasion, which is why she’s the one Hillsman wants to have the ball.Every game, Peterson has put the nickname on the line and come out looking more and more like it during the NCAA Tournament. Against a team Syracuse has already lost to this season, the Orange will need her to perform at least one more time.“You have to try and take your game up another level at this time of year to be able to compete because you’re going to get everyone’s best,” Peterson said. “If you don’t bring your best, that could be the last time you play until the next season.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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