The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (6-6, 0-1) fought right to the very end, but the No. 7 Louisville Cardinals (12-1, 1-0) delivered the knockout punch.
Syracuse has grown accustomed to these tough games away from the Dome against top competition. Louisville weathered an early Orange storm as Syracuse jumped out to a 10-4 lead early. The Cardinals would come right back, and the first quarter was a good testament to how this game was going to go. Digna Strautmane, a player that has kind of flown under the radar the last few games, had a huge first quarter scoring eight points with two makes from behind the arc, which gave Syracuse a 20-19 lead after the first frame.
Both defenses set in, as both teams were in a scoring draughts. No team was able to pull away, as Louisville would finally find some offensive rhythm that would soon be halted by Emily Engstler, who cashed in a jumper to stop a 7-0 scoring run. Engstler would also find some success from long range, as a three to end the first half put Syracuse down just 31-30 at the KFC Yum! Center. All things considered, Syracuse has been in this position before away from home, and didn’t back down from a stronger opponent in front of a great Sunday afternoon crowd.
Louisville would come out of the locker room hot, but not enough to put the Orange away. The Cards used several scoring runs to take their largest lead of the game at 43-35 at the five minute mark of the third. Syracuse followed this with a 6-0 run to bring the game back within five points thanks to help from their bigs, Engstler and Djaldi-Tabdi. With 31 seconds left in the quarter, Elizabeth Balogun nailed a jumper to put the Cardinals up 50-43, and a missed three point attempt by Engstler sent SU down 7 going into the fourth quarter.
Teisha Hyman, a name that hasn’t been thrown around a lot this year, nailed a three to make this a four point game, and Syracuse, like we have seen all year, would simply not go away. Hyman would sink another three-point shot at the 6:35 mark, making this a three-point game, and another a minute later to tie this thing up. It really looked like Syracuse was in the driver’s seat for an upset. Consecutive possessions for both teams would turn out blank before a Dana Evans three put Louisville up 3 with 3:45 to go. Back-to-back layups by Kiara Lewis and Amaya Finklea-Guity would give Syracuse a one point lead with 2:37 to go. With 1:19 to go, Louisville went to the line up by a point, and missed both free throws, only to grab an offensive rebound and throw in a layup thank to Elizabeth Bolugun. A dagger right to the heart. Syracuse would turn it over on the next possession with the chance to tie, and Lousiville escaped with a victory by a score of 62-58. Syracuse has suffered agonizing defeat against top opponents all year, and have looked really good at times against them. At 6-6, the Orange have plenty of games on their schedule to bolster that resume.
Kiara Lewis finished with 14 points and was the Orange leading scorer, followed by Emily Engstler who finished with 9 points and 13 rebounds while also snagging two steals. Louisville’s Jazmine Jones was the game’s leading scorer with 24 points.
Syracuse will next host Florida State on January 2. The Seminoles make the trip from Tallahassee as the No. 8 team in the country — making it the fourth straight game SU will have against top-25 competition (they’re 1-2 so far in those).