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Syracuse women’s basketball falls to South Florida, 77-53

The Orange couldn’t keep pace with the Bulls in their first game in Atlantis.

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

In their first game in the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team fell to 23rd-ranked South Florida 77-53 on Saturday afternoon at the Imperial Arena.

For the second time this season, the Orange looked thoroughly overmatched against a quality opponent. The Bulls were able to assert themselves down low and in the mid-range against Syracuse’s zone. South Florida crushed the Orange on the glass, winning the rebounding battle 50-30.

The Bulls were not a big team but grabbed 18 offensive boards, as the Orange struggled to rebound out of its 2-3 zone.

Christianna Carr led ‘Cuse with 14 points on four-of-nine shooting from long range. No one else scored in double-figures for the Orange. Naje Murray’s had nine points, but they all came in the first quarter. Teisha Hyman struggled to four points on two-of-seven shooting after scoring a career-high 23 against Morgan State.

Syracuse (2-2) shot 37 percent from the field, but could only hit seven of its 27 attempts from deep. They could only get to the free-throw line four times while the Bulls took 17 attempts from the charity stripe.

USF (3-1) employed a balanced offensive attack. Bethy Mununga had a game-high 18 points and secured a double-double with 12 boards. Sydni Harvey and Elena Tsineke each contributed 17 in the victory.

The Bulls handled Syracuse’s press, ending the game with 19 assists and 11 giveaways. The Orange once again struggled to control the ball, turning it over 15 times.

The Orange started out strong, forcing the Bulls into four early turnovers in the first ten minutes. Thanks to nine early points from Murray, Syracuse led 18-13 after the opening quarter.

The Bulls began to find their footing and quickly took control in the second quarter. Eboni Walker stretched the Orange lead to 20-13 early in the second quarter, but from there it was all USF. Mununga hit a three and scored four second-chance points to help key a 20-6 run to end the half for the Bulls. Both Carr and Alaysia Styles battled foul trouble, which did the Orange no favors inside. USF led 33-26 at the half.

Early in the third, Hyman hit a jumper to cut the Orange deficit to 35-30, but it was the closest they would get for the rest of the game. Tsineke scored seven straight points for the Bulls to help them extend their advantage to 51-36 with three minutes left in the third. Maria Alvarez added two consecutive triples for USF, who took a 58-44 lead into the last ten minutes.

The only real highlight of the fourth for the Orange was a Styles dunk off an offensive rebound. The Bulls extended their lead past 20 and never waivered down the stretch.

This weekend in the Bahamas looks like it will be a learning experience more than anything for Syracuse. They will look to take some positives out of their next two games.

The Orange will face Minnesota on Sunday at 5 p.m. The Golden Gophers lost an 88-58 contest to UConn in the game before Syracuse-USF.