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Syracuse women’s basketball: what to watch for vs. Binghamton

The Orange look to make it three in a row against the Bearcats.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Stony Brook at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball are looking to begin their 2022-2023 campaign 3-0 tonight.

Syracuse is set to take on the Birmingham Bearcats Monday night at the JMA Wireless Dome, with tip-off at 7 pm. The game will also be streamed on ACCNX via ESPN+.

‘Cuse is coming off a dominant 24-point victory over the Colgate Raiders but the Orange will be down a player.

Transfer forward Olivia Owens announced on Instagram that she is voluntarily withdrawing from the team. Owens suited up for six minutes in the Orange’s exhibition game versus the Le Moyne Dolphins, but didn’t play in the team’s first two games due to “team rules”.

In her Instagram message, Owens stated the following about her decision to leave the team.

“Unfortunately, events have occurred that has caused me to make the difficult decision to voluntarily withdraw,” said Owens. “I want to thank Syracuse University, my teammates, and Orange family for our time together. I wish them much success as they move forward in the season.”

The Bearcats will enter their matchup against the Orange with a 2-0 record, coming off a 76-61 victory over Navy. Last season, Birmingham finished 9-20 overall and 5-13 in the American East Conference.

With all this in mind, here are three things to watch for heading into Monday night’s game.

Question #1: How will Syracuse’s defense look against a balanced attack from Binghamton?

This season, four players for the Bearcats are averaging double-figures in scoring, led by Clare Trager (15.0 PPG), Denai Bowman (12.5 PPG), and Jadyn Weltz (12.5 PPG). And, while the team isn’t the most potent threat from behind the arc in terms of volume, Binghamton is shooting 11/24 from three to begin the year.

In Syracuse’s last two matchups, the theme has been establishing a physical presence in the paint on both ends of the floor. Expect the Orange to prevent easy drives at the rim and force more attempts from the perimeter.

Question #2: Can the Orange (finally) get hot from three?

It’s still early, but collectively, Syracuse has not shot the ball well from outside the arc.

After two games, the team is shooting just 7/36 from three. The Orange’s perimeter players, in particular, have had slow starts on the perimeter. Even the scoring duo of Dyaisha Fair and Teisha Hyman are combining to shoot 3/17 from behind the arc.

The sample size is small, but Syracuse’s main strength is scoring just about anything that’s not a three. It’ll be interesting to see if the Orange continue focusing on attacking the basket and setting up opportunities in the post, or shift to a more spaced-out offense.

Question #3: Who’s the next player to have a breakout performance?

Forward Dariuana Lewis (13.5 PPG, 13.0 RPG, 3.0 BPG) is having a fantastic start to the season, fixing up Syracuse’s troubles with rebounding and interior scoring last season. Against Colgate, it was Alaina Rice who led the way for the Orange with 16 points. Saniaa Wilson and Georgia Woolley have each flashed potential in limited bench roles.

It’s a game of “Guess Who?” for which player steps up for Syracuse. Obviously, Fair and Hyman are the Orange’s best players. However, against the talented and competitive teams in the ACC, the team is going to need as much quality depth as possible, something Syracuse clearly didn’t have in 2021-2022.

With a slew of non-conference games up on the docket, expect coach Felisha Legette-Jack to continue figuring out the rotation and which lineups work best moving forward.