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Syracuse women’s basketball: the Orange blow 21-point lead, fall to Penn State 82-69

Syracuse loses its first game of the season in heartbreaking fashion.

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

Collapse. Meltdown. Cold shooting. However you want to call it, the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team suffered its first loss of the season in one of the worst ways possible.

Coming off four straight wins at home, the Orange played its first road game of the season against the Penn State Lady Lions. Penn State began this season also with a 4-0 record and, like Syracuse, both programs finished 11-18 in 2021-2022. Both teams were as close to evenly matched as possible, at least on paper.

Syracuse women’s basketball looked to begin its season 5-0 for the first time since 2017-2018, when the team finished 22-9 overall.

In Monday night’s matchup against the Lady Lions, coach Felisha-Legette Jack used a starting lineup of Dyaisha Fair (G), Teisha Hyman (G), Alaina Rice (G), Dariuana Lewis (F), and Asia Strong (F). Lewis returned to the starting lineup in place of Kyra Wood after missing the Orange’s game versus Long Island University with an illness.

For two quarters, and throughout most of the third quarter, the arrow was pointing nowhere but up for the Orange.

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

Syracuse shot out of the gate going 6/7 from three overall in the first quarter alone. By halftime, ‘Cuse forced Penn State into shooting just 9/36 from the field in the first half, limiting the Lady Lions to only 23 points after two quarters of action.

From there, everything went downhill for Syracuse. The Orange’s defense completely collapsed against a Penn State squad that flipped the script coming out of halftime.

In the game’s final two quarters, the Lady Lions shot 58% from the field and 47% from downtown. In the fourth quarter alone, the Orange were outscored 37-14 in what can only be described as a second-half meltdown for Syracuse.

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

Dyaisha Fair led the way for Syracuse with 20 points in what was her second-straight game scoring at least 20 points. Teisha Hyman added 19 points on 7/13 shooting but played in just 24 minutes while dealing with foul trouble throughout the game.

Unlike previous games, the Orange’s bench was nonexistent in Monday night’s contest, getting outscored 27-6 by the bench unit for the Lady Lions.

After defeating Penn State two years ago 82-72, Penn State gets its revenge at home in stunning fashion. The Orange now fall to 4-1 on the season and will look to rebound later this week against Bucknell.

It’s safe to say there will be a lot to discuss in the locker room for coach Felisha Legette-Jack and company.

Syracuse vs. Penn State by the numbers:

  1. The Orange shot 9/25 from three against Penn State, which is the team’s best finish from three to start this season. Up to Monday night’s game, Syracuse hadn’t made more than five threes in a game.
  2. Turnovers were the kryptonite for the Orange against the Lady Lions. Penn State forced 19 turnovers and turned those mistakes into 28 points for the Lady Lions.
  3. After shooting just 25% in the first half, Penn State finished the game shooting 21/36 (58%) from the field in the second half.
  4. The Orange’s six points off the team’s bench were the lowest point total of the season.
  5. Penn State took advantage of a poor rebounding performance by Syracuse, finishing with a plus-17 margin in second-chance points.

Biggest Takeaways of the Game:

A shocking collapse causes the Orange to implode: Syracuse allowing Penn State to score 37 points in the final 10 minutes of the game looks like a typo, but it happened. There are a lot of reasons to explain what happened in Syracuse’s fourth-quarter collapse, whether it was the Orange’s starters getting worn out or Penn State catching fire from everywhere on the floor.

Regardless, allowing nearly an average of four points per minute in the fourth quarter is inexcusable. Penn State didn’t give up, and the team gets credit for fighting hard despite the 20-plus-point deficit.

With a couple of days of recovery ahead, the Orange need to reset and cut back on the sloppy play, slow defensive help, and stagnant offensive possessions.

Penn State beat Syracuse at its own game: To start the season, Syracuse took advantage of huge margins on the offensive glass, second-chance points, and fastbreak opportunities. Penn State gave ‘Cuse a taste of its own medicine in Monday’s game. The bad news for the Orange: there didn’t seem to be a plan b. Outside of Fair and Hyman, no one on Syracuse’s roster looked to be a threat on offense. Alaina Rice hit three threes and Asia Strong chipped in 11 points on 12 shots, but every other player didn’t get a groove going on offense.

Dyaisha Fair and Teisha Hyman are starting to heat up: Given how winnable this game was and how much more the loss stings, the big positive for Syracuse is that both Fair and Hyman are each producing efficient performances on offense in the same game. The Fair-Hyman scoring backcourt is playing as advertised, and the Orange can at least leave Penn State knowing that pairing will continue to produce moving forward this season.

Next game on the agenda:

After the loss to Penn State, Syracuse falls to 4-1 on the season and will look to bounce back on Friday night against the Bucknell Bison. The matchup against Bucknell should (hopefully) be an easy one for the Orange, with Bucknell currently sitting at 1-3 and its only win being against Cornell in overtime.

There’s still plenty of time left this season. If there was a time to have a collapse for Syracuse, better now than later.