It was only Syracuse’s second loss at the Dome this season and its first since Nov. 14 against Notre Dame.
At the midway point of the season, the Orange sit at 8-7 overall and 1-3 in ACC play. That doesn’t tell the whole story. The doldrums of a 2-4 start were replaced by a six-game winning streak with notable triumphs over Ohio State and Clemson. Now, Syracuse is in the middle of another dip on the rollercoaster, with Sunday’s loss sending the Orange to their third straight loss.
Syracuse hung close for most of the first half, but as was the case against North Carolina and Boston College, depth was a major issue. Kara Lawson’s Blue Devils went nine-deep while Vonn Read stuck mostly to his six-player rotation. Duke was able to get inside and create foul trouble for the Orange.
Syracuse did not play nearly as poorly as did on Thursday against the Eagles. The Orange defended better and came within one possession of the Blue Devils, but Duke was simply too deep and too talented.
Syracuse’s tallest player, Alaysia Styles, picked up three first-half fouls while Naje Murray and Alaina Rice were each saddled with two.
Things started well enough for the Orange, who forced seven Blue Devils turnovers and led 18-17 after a back-and-forth first quarter. Duke started to take better care of the ball and gradually gained control of the game.
A jumper from Celeste Taylor gave the Blue Devils a 32-24 edge with 2:54 left in the half. A few moments later, Taylor, Duke’s leading scorer, went down in a hard collision with Rice but managed to make her way back into the game in the second half. A three from Miela Goodchild gave Duke a 40-28 advantage at the half.
The Blue Devils went cold in the third quarter and the Orange began to chip away. A floater from Teisha Hyman brought it to within 47-42 with 3:12 left in the third. Syracuse got within three at one point, but a pair of triples from Goodchild and a layup from Lexi Wilson restored Duke’s lead to 59-48 with ten minutes left.
The Orange could not seriously threaten the Blue Devils in the fourth quarter, coming within 70-63 with a minute left, but could not apply any more game pressure.
Hyman led Syracuse with 21 points, hitting 5-15 from the field and 10-10 from the free-throw line. Christianna Carr and Alaysia Styles were the other Syracuse players in double-digits with 12 and 10, respectively.
The Orange shot only 32 percent from the field and 4-18 from three but did make 15-16 from the foul line. Surprisingly, Syracuse outrebounded Duke easily, 47-35.
The Blue Devils shot 45 percent from the field and had 30 attempts from the charity stripe, converting 20. Duke’s bench outscored the Orange’s 27-3.
One-time Syracuse commit Shayeann Day-Wilson had 11 points for the Blue Devils. The Canadian freshman switched to Duke and was considered the top point guard from north of the border. Former Syracuse post player Amaya Finklea-Guity is also on Duke’s roster but did not play due to health and safety protocols.
Syracuse will look a fourth-straight loss right in the face when it travels to No. 3 Louisville on Thursday night. This is a tough stretch for the Orange, who will face three ranked teams in the next five games.