#23/18 Syracuse takes on #10/9 Florida State for the Orange's final home game of the year on Thursday, February 18th. Syracuse will be celebrating Senior Day, as it is likely the last time the seniors will play a game wearing a Syracuse jersey inside the Carrier Dome. The only other chance they have is if they are able to secure a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament. Syracuse currently sits at the 5th seed in bracketology, so home tournament games are no guarantee.
The seniors this year are Brianna Butler, Cornelia Fondren, Maggie Morrison, Taylor Ford, and Aliyah Paris.
It is no doubt that the seniors have been an essential part of the team. This season they average 85 minutes per game combined, or 43% of all minutes played. Additionally, they average 28.7 points per game combined which make up for 40% of points scored by the Orange this year.
Brianna Butler is the most well-known senior this season. She has started ALL 123 games for the Orange since she's been on the squad. Butler was a highly touted recruit out of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, Syracuse's third-ever McDonald's All-American. However, she has lived up to expectations. Brianna Butler is currently the active leader in the country in 3-pt FGs made. She also came into this season already the most 3-pt FGs in Syracuse program history. Butler ranks sixth all-time in total points scored for Syracuse with 1,488 in her storied career.
Cornelia Fondren has started in 61 games in her Syracuse career and has played in 120 of them. Fondren has always been a reliable player for Coach Q, averaging 21 minutes per game. One of Cornelia Fondren's best games ever was against Howard on December 30th. She collected a triple-double with 12 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 steals. This was Syracuse's third triple-double in program history. Cornelia Fondren has been absolutely vital as the first person off the bench in most games.
After playing her first 2 seasons at Vanderbilt, Maggie Morrison transferred to Syracuse to seek more playing time. While she hasn't started in a Syracuse game, Morrison has played in 53 games, missing just five since she became eligible to play for SU. Morrison averages 14 minutes a game this season but has played a vital role backing up Alexis Peterson. One of her best performances ever was shredding Duke this season at the Dome, hitting seven 3-pointers, one offthe school record. Morrison can hopefully help power SU's bench in postseason play.
Taylor Ford was a big asset for Syracuse in both her sophomore and junior seasons. She averaged 19 minutes in those years. Unfortunately, Ford didn't fit into the system as well this year. Regardless, the Bronx product has been a team leader and still provides big minutes off the bench.
Aliyah Paris has played only one game with Syracuse. Paris played her first years at St. John Fishers and is from Hillsborough, New Jersey.
Besides it being the final home game for five Syracuse players, Thursday's game is an important one. Florida State is a big one because Syracuse is currently a 4-seed in the ACC. The top four seeds in the ACC clinch a double-bye in the ACC tournament. Syracuse is only one game ahead of Miami in the standings. Florida State is Syracuse's most difficult challenge remaining, so it would be huge to defeat Florida State at home. While Syracuse is nearly locked into the NCAA tournament, they have only two wins against Top 25 opponents. A win against #10/9 Florida State would be the signature win of the season so far and would swing the Orange into the postseason with loads of momentum.