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Syracuse WBB Beaten By No. 9 Florida State, Slips to 0-7 Against Ranked Teams

The Orange squandered yet another statement win with a crushing 62-52 loss to the Seminoles.

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

He says it with a smirk, acknowledging the problem that's daunted Syracuse this season and could cost the Orange come tournament time.

Quentin Hillsman wants his team to get some "double-dollar signs", or the symbol for a quality win on some sites that calculate RPI in college basketball.

But the Orange, again, couldn't come up with one on Monday versus No. 9 Florida State, losing to the Seminoles by a score of 62-52 in Tallahassee.

Hillsman's comments came before, perhaps, his team's most critical test of the season: a three-game road trip against a trio of ranked teams.  His wish to pick up a marquee win hasn't come true yet as the Orange compounded a blowout loss to No. 8 Louisville with another defeat (albeit a bit closer) against the streaking Seminoles. Syracuse's season has been a four month long, jekyll-and-hyde run, that depends on the quality of its opponent. The Orange doesn't have a bad loss, but it doesn't have a great win either.

Against unranked teams, Syracuse is 15-0.

Against ranked ones, Syracuse is 0-7.

That, in a nutshell, sums up the team's season and explains why this latest loss is so damaging to the Orange, who hung on to a No. 25 ranking in this week's AP Poll.

The most bizarre part is that Syracuse has played quite well, even better, than its ranked opponents for large stretches of time without getting rewarded with a single win.

"We're always right there at the goal and we're always at the end of the game where it comes down to the last possession," guard Cornelia Fondren said.  "But we end up losing."

Five of seven losses have been within single digits, including three that were decided by four points or fewer.

"It's very frustrating because we know we can win," Briana Day said last week.  "And encouraging because we know we can win."

This latest loss can be boiled down to a slow first half, when the Orange shot just 19.4 percent and only managed to produce seven field goals.  At intermission, Syracuse had just 18 points which marked its lowest scoring output of any half the season.

The Orange responded with much better offensive play after intermission, starting with back-to-back field goals from Briana Day and Cornelia Fondren. Syracuse got within one possession at times, but wasn't able to tie the game even with its improved play later in the game. The Seminoles withstood a physical match, a strong second half from Day and 21 turnovers as a team to hold on for their eight win in a row.

It never was closer than a five game during the last 7:12 of play and the Orange ultimately fell by the same ten point margin that it went into halftime with.

"We have to play the whole game strong," Day said. "We can't just wait until those final minutes."

The same problems that have haunted Syracuse all season came through on Monday night.

When Alexis Peterson isn't putting on a show, the Orange can't figure out a way to score. Peterson averages exactly 16 points in wins, compared to 12 in losses. And she's only produced a combined 13 points in the team's recent two-game skid.

Coming into the night, Syracuse was worst in the conference in field goal percentage, partly because of its persistence on taking 3-pointers.  The Orange didn't help the cause by missing its first nine from behind-the-arc until Taylor Ford (mercifully) hit one late in the first half.

The final dagger was the one-sided battle on the boards, against a Florida State team that's out-rebounded every opponent this season.  Hillsman, often, uses Day as his only forward and relies on a four-guard lineup.  That forward depth got even weaker when the team suspended her twin sister, Bria Day, according to SU Athletics.  It wasn't announced the reason or length of the suspension.  Day, a reserve center, only scores 1.1 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.  But like DaJuan Coleman, she's another big body and another five fouls available when the team is in foul trouble.

The Orange finish up the road trip against No. 13 North Carolina, which could very well be the last chance for a resume-boosting win.  Syracuse's final six games come against teams currently outside the top 25.

If Syracuse is able to upset the Tar Heels like last year, it'd go a long way in securing its third straight NCAA Tournament birth.

Otherwise, it could be the Orange who gets upset when the brackets are announced.