Syracuse Orange women’s basketball broke its six-game losing streak with an 80-72 triumph over the Pittsburgh Panthers on Sunday afternoon inside the Carrier Dome.
It was a game the Orange and Panthers each needed to win. Both teams came into Sunday well below .500 in ACC play, but it was the home team that prevailed on National Girls and Women in Sports Day in the Dome.
It took until the end of January for the Orange to earn their first win of 2022. Syracuse moves to 9-10 overall and 2-7 in the league.
The Panthers didn’t seem like a great matchup for the Orange. Pitt entered the game as one of the nation’s better defensive teams, not allowing a single opponent to shoot above 45 percent from the field this season. The Panthers were also the latest team to enjoy a sizeable height advantage over the Orange, finishing with a 62-39 rebounding advantage.
But sometimes, you just have history on your side. Syracuse hasn’t lost to Pitt since 2009 when the teams were Big East foes. The victory was the 21st in a row in the series for the Orange.
It was a balanced effort from the five Syracuse starters, all of whom scored in double-figures. Chrislyn Carr had a game-high 19 points, including some big buckets down the stretch to secure the win. Christianna Carr broke out of a mini-slump with 17, Alaysia Styles had an efficient 16, Naje Murray added 14, and Teisha Hyman contributed 11 after stuffing the stat sheet last time out against Notre Dame.
When you make shots, you win. Sometimes basketball is as simple as that.
In a fast-paced game, the Orange shot 31-of-77 (40 percent) from the field and connected on 13-of-32 threes. The 13 made triples ties a season-high which Syracuse first set against Clemson back in December.
On the other side, the Panthers only shot 2-of-21 from deep and only made 10-of-18 attempts from the charity stripe. Amber Brown had a team-high 12 for Pitt.
The game had the look of an all-out sprint in the first quarter. When the first media timeout rolled around, Syracuse led 16-15 a little less than five minutes in. Pitt didn’t shoot well from the outside but commanded the paint and found themselves up 25-20 after ten minutes.
Pitt’s dominance on the glass kept them in the game when Syracuse was outperforming the Panthers in every other aspect. The Orange outscored Pitt by 10 in the second stanza to take a 44-39 lead to the break. Syracuse sunk 7-of-18 three-point attempts while Pitt went 0-for-10 and forced the Panthers into 16 first-half turnovers while only giving the ball away five times.
Pitt’s 38-15 rebounding advantage through the first 20 minutes canceled out most of that work. The Panthers scored 17 second-chance points, which helped them stick around.
The Orange came out hot in the second half. Murray hit two threes to extend Syracuse’s advantage to 61-50, and Christianna Carr scored on the next possession to give the Orange its largest lead at 63-50 with 3:41 left.
Syracuse struggled once Pitt instituted a full-court press, giving the ball away 11 times in the second half.
Then, Syracuse began to look tired. Pitt reeled off an 8-0 run, capped by Destiny Strother’s second three of the quarter to make it 63-58 entering the fourth. The Panthers came within 63-61 with 9:05 left in the game but that was the closest they would get.
Syracuse dug deep, as Murray hit another three, and Styles connected on a jumper to restore the advantage to 68-61. The Orange overcame foul trouble and turnovers in the final quarter. Chrislyn Carr provided the dagger with two straight threes to put her team up 76-66 with 1:48 remaining.
Syracuse finally has some positive momentum once again. It will see if it can parlay this into a winning streak when it travels to Miami on Thursday night.