The upset bid just simply wasn’t in the cards for the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team Thursday night in Raleigh. The Orange lost to the No. 8 N.C. State Wolfpack by a score of 69-60.
In the first five minutes of this one, the pace of play was very good for both teams as Syracuse and N.C. State were getting good looks and connecting on several shots. The Pack started honing in on defense however and were able to get out to a pretty decent lead, as a Kayla Jones three pointer at the two minute mark made gave them a 20-11 advantage. N.C. State led at the half 25-16. Kiara Lewis did knock down some tough shots in the first frame which would be crucial if the ‘Cuse were going to stay in this one. Lewis would make 2 of Syracuse’s first three field goals in the second quarter, which was part of an 8-2 run, and now only faced a 29-24 deficit.
The Orange run would stop there however, as big shots from Kayla Jones and Kai Crutchfield extended the Wolfpack lead to 12 with 6:15 left in the quarter. Both teams would go on a near two minute scoring drought from the 5:30 mark to the 3:30 mark, as Engstler, Cooper and Finklea-Guity couldn’t find the bottom of the basket. Syracuse did end the half on the right foot however, as Hyman hit a three, followed by back to back buckets from Strautmane and Lewis. The Orange were only down 40-33 going into the locker room.
Syracuse threw the first punch the second half, as they went on a 7-0 run early to cut the Wolfpack lead to 42-40. Five of the seven points came courtesy of Emily Engstler. N.C. State was able to hit right back, which is what top 10 teams do. They went on an 11-3 run of their own powered by three’s from Kayla Jones and Grace Hunter. It just never seemed like State was going to waver, which was unfortunate for a Syracuse team in need of a big win. The Orange went in the final frame down 61-48. The fourth was sloppy for both teams, as just two points from Kiara Lewis were scored in the first five minutes for both teams. This obviously benefited N.C. State, as now they just needed those seconds to tick off the clock. The Orange were able to end the game on an 8-2 run, but it was never enough as the Pack did everything they needed to do to win this one. 69-60, N.C. State.
State’s balanced scoring attack was led by Aislinn Konig who scored 13 points and dished out 5 assists. Kayla Jones and Erika Cassell each had 12, respectively. Kiara Lewis once again led the ‘Cuse with 20 points, followed by Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi who tallied 10. Emily Engstler scored 9 points and grabbed 5 boards. As a team, Syracuse shot 35.8% from the floor and went 6-24 from beyond the arc. This one just never really seemed like the Orange could steal it, even though the game wasn’t a blowout. N.C. State controlled the tempo and absorbed every run Syracuse went on.
Now, the schedule turns to senior day vs. Boston College on Sunday and then the ACC Tournament. Sitting at 15-13, it looks like the Orange need to reach at least the championship game in Greensboro to receive an at-large, and even then, SU may need a little help.