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Syracuse women’s basketball: what to watch for vs. Long Island University

The Orange look to keep the winning streak alive.

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

With the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball program’s schedule about to ramp up, the team is looking for one more home victory before hitting the road.

Syracuse begins the 2022-2023 season at 3-0, coming off a dominant 92-59 victory against the Binghamton Bearcats.

The team will look to remain undefeated entering its matchup against the Long Island University Sharks on Thursday night at the JMA Wireless Dome, with tip-off set for 7 pm. The game will also be streamed on ACCNX via ESPN+.

The Sharks will enter its game against the Orange with a 2-1 record, coming off a 26-point win against Hartford. Last season, LIU finished 9-18 overall, finishing 9-9 in the Northeast Conference.

Heading into the game, Syracuse is defeating its opponents by a margin of 26.7 points per game. With ‘Cuse looking to get another Dome win under its belt before playing three of its next four games on the road, here are three things to watch for heading into Thursday night’s matchup against Long Island University.

Question #1: Can the Orange lockdown the paint (again)?

The trend this season for Syracuse has been a greater emphasis on crashing the defensive glass and forcing teams into taking more outside shots. It’s been an effective strategy so far.

Against LIU, expect head coach Felisha Legette-Jack to keep course against the Sharks. Just two players for LIU are averaging double-digit point totals, and the efficiency across the board for the Sharks doesn’t jump out either.

But, LIU does have 54 total free throw attempts in its first three games, connecting on nearly 78% of those looks. With the Sharks shooting below 34% from the field, attacking the basket might be its only hope against staying alive against the Orange.

If the Orange can strike at the heart of what keeps LIU competitive, Syracuse should win this game comfortably.

Question #2: Will Dyaisha Fair unleash mayhem against the Sharks’ defense?

Through three games, Fair is averaging 15.7 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 4.0 APG, and 2.3 SPG in what’s been an all-around effort. On Wednesday, Fair was recognized to the 2022-23 John R. Wooden Award preseason watchlist, joining 11 other ACC players and adding on to her list of preseason honors.

Fair’s go-to ability is her isolation scoring. She’s finished top-five in the nation in points per game in two of the last three women’s college basketball seasons. But so far, Fair’s efficiency (35% from the field, 25% from three) is a little bit underwhelming.

There’s a solid chance Fair could catch fire against a solid but overwhelmed Sharks defense. With a brief and tougher road trip on the way for Syracuse, it would be the ideal time for Fair to get going on offense.

Question #3: Can the Orange end the cold streak from the free throw and three-point lines?

Syracuse started this season ice cold primarily on foul shots and three-point looks.

After three games, ‘Cuse is collectively just 47/77 (61%) from the free throw line and a dismal 8/43 (19%) from three.

The volume is there for the Orange. The team is averaging nearly 26 free throw attempts per game and 14 threes per game. Now, the question is whether the team can start converting on those looks.

Against superior competition, Syracuse has to improve in one of those categories. If not, things will shake up a lot differently later in the season than they are right now.