After falling behind 22-16 in the early second quarter, the Orange went on a 70-24 run over the final 27 minutes of the game. It was Syracuse’s third straight victory by at least 30 points.
When Syracuse suffered an 82-56 blowout loss to Notre Dame earlier in the season, it seemed to validate doubts about the team’s ability to compete with conference foes. But the Orange have come a long way in the last month, improving on both sides of the ball.
They came into Saturday averaging 99 points per game in their last three contests, including a program-record 116-point barrage against Central Connecticut State. The offense wasn’t quite in that range in this game, but the defense more than made up for it. Syracuse forced 23 turnovers and held the Tigers to 25% shooting on the night.
The Orange (7-4) finished the evening 34-for-65 (52%) from the field and a red-hot 13-of-28 from beyond the arc. It was Syracuse’s third consecutive outing shooting over 50% from the floor.
Naje Murray finished with 21 points on four-of-eight shooting from three to lead all scorers. Christianna Carr racked up 19 points, and Chrislyn Carr added 15.
Alaysia Styles notched a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Teisha Hyman was the only Orange starter that failed to reach double-figures, finishing with eight points and adding nine assists.
In her first game against her former team, Kiara Lewis could only manage four points on two-of-seven shooting. Lewis starred at Syracuse after transferring in from Ohio State. She averaged 14 points per game in 2020-21.
Syracuse started an ice-cold one-of-13 from three-point range and trailed in the early part of the first half. The Orange forced 15 Clemson giveaways in the first half, and eventually, the defensive effort began to bleed into the offense.
Naje Murray hit two consecutive threes to give Syracuse a 24-22 lead with just over five minutes left in the half. Chrislyn Carr made it a third straight triple on the next possession and made it clear that the lid was off the hoop. The Tigers had more turnovers (eight) than field goals (six) in the second quarter and watched a lead turn into a double-digit deficit.
Murray got to the hoop to give the Orange a 40-27 lead before the half and cap a 24-5 run in the last seven minutes of the second quarter.
Syracuse kept extending its lead with more help from Murray. She drained a three and netted a mid-range jumper, as the Orange scored the first nine points of the third quarter and forced the Tigers into burning two timeouts.
Murray struck again to extend the lead to 58-34 late in the third, and Syracuse kept twisting the knife, with Styles scoring to make it 65-34 after three quarters.
Nyah Wilson hit a three to extend the lead to 42 at 78-36 with 6:14 left. The blowout was more than on.
At some point, the dominant string of victories will come to an end, but the Orange are playing as one instead of five. This team didn’t have any expectations before the season and is playing freely. Very often, those squads are the most dangerous.
The Orange have a week off before hosting UMBC next Saturday in an early 11 a.m. ET matchup.