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Notre Dame 85, Syracuse 80: Orange women fall in fourth quarter

Record attendance couldn’t fuel a record upset... though it was close.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Notre Dame at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team pulled off a record attendance of 11,021 on Sunday night, but it wasn’t enough to top the No. 7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Despite a lead heading into the fourth quarter, SU fell 85-80 in their last chance to grab a resume-boosting win during the regular season.

Syracuse grabbed a lead early, hitting their first seven shots and taking a 30-24 advantage into the second quarter. The Orange were up 43-35 at halftime, and looked poised to score their first upset of Notre Dame since 2002.

The Irish performed like a top-10 opponent would during the fourth quarter, though. SU’s then four-point lead was chipped away at over time, before ND took the lead for good with less than eight minutes remaining. Notre Dame’s Brianna Turner led the way for all scorers, with 31 points. She was one of just two Irish players to score in double figures (the other was Marina Mabrey).

Syracuse, on the other hand, sported one of their most balanced attacks of the season. Alexis Peterson and Brittney Sykes scored 19 apiece, while Gabby Cooper and Briana Day chipped in 18 each.

SU falls to 18-9 on the season, and 9-5 in the ACC. Notre Dame improved to 25-3 and 13-1 in league play.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Notre Dame at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Coach Quentin Hillsman had been part of an athletic department push to set the school attendance record and it showed. The game more than doubled the previous SU women’s record (a little over 5,000 vs. UConn in 2012). Still, it was the team’s first home loss since January 25, 2016.

Syracuse has two games left in the regular season in their quest to get to 20 wins once again. Senior night takes place against Wake Forest on Thursday, February 23. Then the Orange wrap up at Pitt on the road on Saturday, February 26. SU could finish as high as fourth in the ACC, which would mean a double-bye in the conference tournament.