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Syracuse women’s basketball: the Orange improve to 4-0 after 85-63 victory against LIU

After a slow first quarter, ‘Cuse keeps its winning streak alive.

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

So far against non-conference opponents, the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team looks the part.

After Syracuse’s first three games, the team is outscoring its opponents by 26.7 points per contest. In the Orange’s matchup against the Long Island University Sharks, Syracuse got off to a slower start than usual. The Sharks led 14-13 after the first quarter and trailed by just 9 points entering halftime against the Orange.

In the second half, Syracuse outscored LIU 49-36, including a dominant 32-point performance in the third quarter.

In Thursday night’s matchup against the Sharks, coach Felisha-Legette Jack used a starting lineup of Dyaisha Fair (G), Teisha Hyman (G), Alaina Rice (G), Kyra Wood (F), and Asia Strong (F). Wood started for the first time for Syracuse, with typical starting forward Dariuana Lewis sidelined for the game versus LIU will an illness.

For the first time this season, both Fair and Hyman produced an efficient offensive performance in the same game. Fair led the way with a team-high 22 points on 8/15 shooting, to go along with 2/5 shooting from three, 7 assists, and 2 steals. Hyman chipped in 13 points and 4 assists on 6/10 shooting.

In the absence of Lewis (14.7 PPG, 12.0 RPG, 3.3 BPG, and 59% shooting), Syracuse’s depth shined again with a pair of familiar faces. Asia Strong led all the Orange’s forwards with 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 threes. In just 19 minutes of action, Saniaa Wilson chipped in 12 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.

Speaking of the bench, it was the other shining spotlight for the Orange besides the production from the Fair-Hyman backcourt. Syracuse’s bench helped the team out with 28 points, one of the higher marks on the season from the non-starters. Besides Wilson, Buffalo transfer Georgia Woolley gave Syracuse a much-needed spark with 8 points and a pair of difficult shots to get the team back in the game.

After leading 14-13 by the end of the first quarter, LIU never led the rest of the way. Syracuse was up by as much as 31 points en route to the team’s 23-point victory.

For the first time in two seasons, the Orange improve to 4-0.

With four games underneath its belt, Syracuse’s fifth game of the season will have some significance. For starters, the team will play its first road game of the season after four straight contests at home. More importantly, the Orange will look to begin 5-0 for the first time since the 2017-2018 season, when Syracuse finished 22-9 overall.

Syracuse vs. Binghampton by the numbers:

  1. With the exception of the fourth quarter, Syracuse didn’t allow more than 14 points in a quarter against LIU.
  2. For the first time this season, ‘Cuse was outrebounded on the offensive glass. The Sharks finished with two more offensive rebounds (19) compared to the Orange (17).
  3. Syracuse forced 29 turnovers against the LIU, which is the most in a game this season for the Orange.
  4. It wasn’t the prettiest performance from either team from behind the line, with both programs combining to shoot just 12/44 (27%) from three.
  5. For the first time this season, both Fair and Hyman shot above 50% from the field in the same game.

Biggest Takeaways of the Game:

The bench continues to surprise: A big theme for Syracuse this season has been the production from the Orange’s non-starters. Coming off a minor injury, Georgia Woolley gave the Orange a spark on the scoring front when the team needed it. For the second game in a row, Saniaa Wilson submitted another solid performance in limited playing time. In the absence of Dariuana Lewis, Kyra Wood gave the Orange some size and value in her first game as a starter.

Syracuse will need its bench to step up as this season continues, especially once the team’s schedule heats up against the ACC. The early season signs are positive for the Orange’s bench.

The rebounding might be an issue down the road: It’s just one game, but there are concerns the rebounding advantage Syracuse thrived on to start the year might cool off once the Orange match up against bigger, more physical teams in its conference. Coach Legette-Jack has made it a priority for her team to bring defensive effort and hustle on the glass. Against a tough Penn State team, we’ll see if that message can resonate for Syracuse.

Syracuse’s new guards bring a lot to the table: With Hyman returning to the team after an All-ACC honorable mention nod in 2021-2022, getting support from the rest of the guards was a critical aspect for Syracuse over the break. So far, Fair has lived up to her billing as a scorer and Woolley provides solid depth which wasn’t available last season. After a great game from the guard trio, let’s see if they can all build some consistency with each other.

Next game on the agenda:

After another double-digit victory at home, Syracuse will take its winning streak on the road against the Penn State Nittany Lions. The Orange last faced the Nittany Lions in 2020-2021, when Syracuse defeated Penn State 82-72 at home. Last season, Penn State finished 11-18 overall and 5-13 in the Big Ten Conference.