The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team got the job done on opening night, beating the Ohio Bobcats 66-54.
This game almost got out of hand early, as No. 21-ranked Syracuse started off very slow, allowing the MAC favorites to get out to a 19-4 lead. Ohio guard Amani Burke was hot from beyond the arc to start the game, making two three point field goals in the first quarter. Both teams were sloppy however despite the hot shooting from the Bobcats. The Orange started in a full court press that eventually dropped back into the 2-3 zone. SU would cut the Ohio lead to 22-10 after the first quarter as Amaya Finklea would beat the buzzer to make the score look closer than it actually was.
Finklea, who finished with 9 points and 10 rebounds, would also start the scoring in the second quarter to cut the lead to 22-12 as Syracuse was going to emphasize their clear size advantage. While they had success getting to the paint, the Orange struggled around the rim. Ohio was a stingy defense that caused 18 ‘Cuse turnovers, which made Coach Q visibly upset on the sidelines. Syracuse’s aforementioned size would lead them to out rebound Ohio 57-32, with 23 of them being offensive rebounds.
The second quarter also made it clear that Ohio was going to live and die by the three, and they went 0-9 in the second quarter with ultimately let Syracuse right back into the game. With 1:16 left in the quarter, the Orange went on a fantastic run. A Taleah Washington thre made it 30-24, and you could sense the game shifting a little. Back to back field goals by Kiara Lewis and Brooke Alexander made it just a 2 point game, and with the final seconds ticking off the clock and energy back in the Dome, Ohio would turn the ball over giving SU a chance to tie or take the lead.
After a missed shot by Amaya Finklea, an offensive rebound by Washington followed by an acrobatic, off balance three would sink, somehow giving the Orange the lead heading into the break. Washington would finish with 10 points on the night. It wasn’t a pretty half by any means, but Syracuse had all the momentum to pull away.
SU would fail to pull away in the second half however, as Ohio would find their hot hand from three again to hang around with the Orange. It looked as though this game could go down to the wire late. A Gabrielle Cooper three followed by the third consecutive buzzer beater from Digna Strautmane would give Syracuse a 51-46 lead going into the final frame. Strautmane would finish with 9 points and 5 rebounds. With 7:40 left in the 4th, a Kiara Lewis three gave Syracuse a 56-46 lead, their largest of the game. Ohio was starting to turn the ball over at will, and looked visibly gassed as SU began to do whatever they wanted. They would win by a final score of 66-54 to start the year 1-0.
Syracuse had three players in double figures as it looks like this team will get scoring from up and down the roster. Kiara Lewis was the leading scorer with 16, followed by Gabrielle Cooper and Taleah Washingoton, each with 10, respectfully. Grad transfer Brooke Alexander from UT Arlington also got meaningful minutes, as she finished with 8 points and very stout defense. The Orange shot 37.7% from the field, and would make 9 of their 27 attempted shots from beyond the arc. Ohio guard Cierra Hooks would lead all scorers with 17 points, as the Bobcats shot 30.6% from the field and knocked down 7 of their attempted 33 three pointers.
The Orange Women are back in action Tuesday, November 11 at 8 p.m. ET as they take on Maryland Eastern Shore at the Dome.