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Syracuse women’s basketball: Fair-Hyman duo powers the Orange to 65-48 victory over Bucknell

Make it 5-0 for ‘Cuse at home.

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

After a tough loss on the road to Penn State, it was a return to business as usual for the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team.

The Orange (5-1) defeated the Bucknell Bisons (2-4) 65-48 at the JMA Wireless Dome Friday night, despite only scoring six points in the first quarter. With the win, Syracuse remains undefeated at home to begin the season with its fifth-straight win in the Dome.

Bucknell entered the game coming off back-to-back wins against Cornell and Iona. Despite the Bisons only allowing an average of 55 points in its past two games, the Orange were able to count on the scoring duo of Dyaisha Fair and Teisha Hyman to overcome the defensive obstacles Syracuse faced.

The biggest story of the contest was with Syracuse’s starting lineup. In Friday night’s matchup against the Bisons, coach Felisha-Legette Jack used a new starting lineup of Dyaisha Fair (G), Teisha Hyman (G), Georgia Woolley (G), Dariuana Lewis (F), and Asia Strong (F). Woolley transferred from the Buffalo Bulls to Syracuse alongside both Fair and coach Legette-Jack. Former starting guard Alaina Rice played just 14 minutes off of Syracuse’s bench.

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

After shooting just 2/12 in the game’s first minutes, Syracuse’s offense finally heated up towards the end of the first half, outscoring Bucknell 22-10 in the second quarter to lead 28-20 at halftime. From there, the Orange kept up its attack by looking for easy shots in the paint and drawing fouls throughout the game.

The Orange were led by Fair, who finished with her best statistical performance of the season: 25 points, 10/19 from the field, 3/5 from three, 3 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. This included a 16-point second-quarter explosion that put ‘Cuse back in the lead for good. Hyman chipped in an efficient 15-point performance on 60% shooting. The rest of Syracuse’s starters combined to shoot just 7/24 from the field.

It was a slow-tempo contest throughout the night. Syracuse finished with just seven fastbreak points, while the Bison finished with zero points in that category.

Syracuse’s defense was the story of the night on the hardwood, holding Bucknell to just 33% shooting from the field and a dismal 2/21 (9.5%) performance from three.

With the win, the Orange now move to 5-1 on the season. In its five victories this season, Syracuse has earned its wins by an average margin of 23.8 points per contest.

Syracuse vs. Bucknell by the numbers:

  1. With her performance, Dyaisha Fair finished with her third-straight game scoring 20 points or more.
  2. Despite a down game (statistically) from Dariuana Lewis (9 points and 7 rebounds on 3/9 shooting), she still ranks second in the ACC in rebounds per game and second in blocks per game.
  3. Through six games, Syracuse is holding opponents to the sixth-lowest three-point percentage in the ACC, despite giving up the third-most attempts in the conference.
  4. The Orange’s bench struggled again for the second-straight game, only producing six points against the Bisons.
  5. After a slow first quarter, Syracuse’s offense got hot thanks to 17/31 (55%) shooting from the team combined in the second and third quarters.

Biggest Takeaways of the Game:

Syracuse’s excellent three-point defense continues: Last season, Syracuse ranked as one of the worst defenses in both the ACC and the NCAA. This season, it seems the strategy for coach Legette-Jack is simple: pack the paint, provide extra help, and dare teams to kill the Orange from behind the line.

So far, it’s worked. As stated above, the Orange have one of the better opponent three-point percentage defenses in the league, despite giving up more than the average ACC team.

Shooting will wax and wane throughout the season, especially from three. But, it appears the Orange are willing to sacrifice three-point looks if it means securing extra rebounds and preventing easy opportunities at the rim.

The Fair-Hyman scoring duo continues trending upward: Orange fans have to feel nothing but joy for how Dyaisha Fair’s offensive firepower is for the team. Individually, she’s produced as advertised. But for the team, it means Syracuse has another option to go to, especially in isolation. Even in a down-shooting night across the board, having two scorers that can carry the load is a blessing for the Orange.

It’ll be interesting to see if both Fair and Hyman can keep things up once ACC play kicks off. But for now, it’s been nothing but a success.

The new (and maybe improved?) starting lineup: Georgia Woolley’s debut wasn’t the prettiest statistically: 3 points, 1/5 shooting, and 6 rebounds in 25 minutes. However, I do like the fit of Woolley next to Fair and Hyman. Woolley still provides the rebounding Alaina Rice did, as well as the three-point shooting.

The biggest change is in fit, both for the starting unit and the bench. Off the bench, Rice gives the Orange more of a ball-handler the team desperately needs when either Fair or Hyman isn’t in the game. In the starting lineup, Woolley’s size makes up for Fair’s stature and gives Syracuse a legit three-point shooter that can space the floor.

It’s still a case of small-sample-size theatre, but we’ll have to see what coach Legette-Jack will do with the final starting spot as the season continues.

Next game on the agenda:

After a fifth-straight home victory, Syracuse returns back on the road for a matchup against the Purdue Boilermakers (5-1), who just suffered its first loss of the season Friday night against Florida State. Purdue is currently 4-0 at home, while the Orange are looking for its first road win of the season.