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Syracuse women’s basketball: second-quarter surge sparks Orange to 79-56 win over Stony Brook

Transfers Dyaisha Fair and Dariauna Lewis looked great in their debuts as Syracuse secures a win in its season opener.

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

The Syracuse Orange took on the Stony Brook Seawolves Monday afternoon in the JMA Wireless Dome to kick off their 2022-2023 season.

Syracuse is looking to build off of a dismal 2021-2022 season that saw the team finish 11-18 overall and just 4-14 against the ACC.

The matchup against Stony Brook marks Felisha Legette-Jack’s first regular season game as Syracuse head coach. She entered the season season with a 342-277 record as a collegiate head coach. Legette-Jack is coming off a 25-9 season and an NCAA Tournament appearance with the Buffalo Bulls.

As for Stony Brook, the Seawolves are coming off a 23-6 season, including a 14-4 record against the Colonial Athletic Association. The Seawolves are projected to finish third based on the CAA’s preseason poll.

Before tipoff, it was announced that 6-4 forward Syracuse forward Olivia Owens was ruled out for the game due to “team rules” according to Olivia Cairo, the Assistant Director of Athletic Communications for Syracuse University. In the Orange’s only exhibition game, Owens finished with 0 points and 2 rebounds in just six minutes of action.

Coach Legette-Jack’s starting lineup against Stony Brook was Dyaisha Fair (G), Teisha Hyman (G), Alaina Rice (G), Dariauna Lewis (F), and Asia Strong (F).

Asia Strong got the ball rolling for the Orange, scoring the first points for both sides off an offensive rebound and putback. Similar to their exhibition game, Syracuse relied heavily on crashing the glass early on, securing five offensive rebounds in the game’s first four minutes.

Both teams traded baskets, with the Orange leading 10-9 against the Seawolves at the halfway mark of the first quarter. Syracuse and Stony Brook each struggled from behind the arc but did have success attacking the rim.

Syracuse struggled out of the gate with turnovers and sloppy play. By the end of the first, turned the ball over six times, while the Seawolves had five turnovers of their own.

Teisha Hyman led the way for Syracuse early on with a couple of baskets and a nice play in transition.

Stony Brook capitalized on a 47% field goal percentage and just 7-22 shooting from the Orange to lead Syracuse 19-17 by the end of the first quarter.

Dyaisha Fair kept the Orange alive on offense, hitting a three to start the second quarter and a tough spinning fadeaway later on. Syracuse’s forwards did a great job crashing the glass and putting some pressure on the Seawolves’ defense, leading to eight free throw attempts and six makes for the Orange.

Then, the Orange started cooking towards the end of the second, with back-to-back threes from Fair and Buffalo transfer Georgia Woolley, giving Syracuse a seven-point lead.

Syracuse exploded in the final three minutes of the first half, going on a 12-2 run and leading Stony Brook 39-26 by halftime. For the Orange, Fair led the team with 12 points, while the duo of Hyman and forward Dariuana Lewis combined for 14 points and 15 rebounds.

It was the defense that ultimately brought Syracuse back in the lead, holding Stony Brook to just 3-14 shooting in the second quarter. The Orange adjusted by forcing the Seawolves into more threes and fewer shot attempts at the rim.

In the second half, both teams shifted their strategies by looking to attack the glass instead of settling for jumpers. the Seawolves cut the Orange’s 13-point lead to seven at the halfway mark of the third quarter.

But just when Stony Brook began to pull close, Syracuse made crucial plays to keep their double-digit lead. Asia Strong hit a nice basket off of an assist from Woolley, then Hyman got a nice transition layup after a steal to put the Orange back up 12.

Syracuse kicked things into high gear towards the end of the third quarter, and ultimately never looked back. The defense did a great job of stopping easy drives at the rim and putting high-ball pressure on the perimeter, forcing the Seawolves into tough, contested jump shots. On offense, the Orange focused on attacking the basket and getting out in transition off defensive stops.

Syracuse took command during the 4th quarter, outscoring Stony Brook 19-8 and forcing the Seawolves into shooting a dismal 2-14 from the field in the final ten minutes of action.

In the end, the Orange secured a win in their season-opener with a commanding 79-56 win against the Seawolves.

Four players scored in double-figures for Syracuse, led by Dyaisha Fair with 18 points in her debut with the Orange. Dariauna Lewis chipped in 15 points, 16 rebounds, and 4 blocks in an all-around effort. Teisha Hyman and Asia Strong combined for 25 points, with Hyman also adding on 9 rebounds and 6 steals. Buffalo transfer Georgia Woolley scored 8 points and made two threes off the bench for ‘Cuse.

With Monday afternoon’s game concluded, Hyman secured her 19th-straight game scoring in double-figures for the Orange.

Just two players scored more than 10 points for the Seawolves, with Syracuse’s defense holding Stony Brook to just 31% from the field and 6% from downtown.

Syracuse begins their 2022-2023 season on the right note and, if this is a sign of things to come, optimism is definitely in the air for coach Legette-Jack and the rest of the women’s program.

Syracuse vs. Stony Brook by the numbers:

  1. The Orange took command of the game during the second and fourth quarters, outscoring the Seawolves 41-15 combined during those two quarters.
  2. Similar to their exhibition matchup, the Orange dominated the glass on both ends of the floor, snagging an extra 18 rebounds compared to Stony Brook, including a +12 margin on the offensive glass.
  3. Syracuse did a great job of pressuring at the top of the key, forcing 22 turnovers and securing 13 steals in the winning effort.
  4. Both teams were ice cold from three, combining to shoot just 5-37 (14%) from behind the arc.
  5. The 23-point victory is the first time the women’s team beat an opponent by 20+ points since December 2021, when the Orange defeated UMBC 82-50.

Biggest Takeaways of the Game:

Syracuse struck gold with its transfers: Dyaisha Fair and Dariauna Lewis played as advertised as each made their real debuts for Syracuse. Fair’s ability to attack the basket, kick out to shooters, and create her own shot is elite. In other words, even if the ball isn’t dropping in the hoop, Fair still brings value to the table anytime she’s on the court. On the other hand, Lewis looked unstoppable on both ends of the court. The Orange lacked shot-blocking and toughness down low last season. In the game against Stony Brook, Lewis gave Syracuse a much-needed rim-protector, rebounder, and interior finisher.

Attacking the rim opens the offense up: For the second-straight game, Syracuse struggled to shoot consistently from three. But, unlike their exhibition game, the Orange did a fantastic job of looking to get great looks inside instead of settling for jumpers. The team attempted 26 free throws and held slight margins in second-chance and paint points.

The Orange could run a killer fastbreak offense: Coach Legette-Jack stressed that defense and effort were the focal points of the team’s preparation over the break. In Monday afternoon’s game, the Orange embraced that philosophy, thriving in turning defense into offense. Syracuse's guards put lots of pressure on the perimeter, forcing Stony Brook into 22 turnovers. The attention has been mainly on if the Orange could improve their interior defense, but the perimeter defense also figures to be a crucial x-factor for the team moving forward.

Syracuse’s improved backcourt depth: Teisha Hyman picked up right where she left off last season, but the real intriguing guard was Georgia Woolley, who gave the Orange a much-need scoring spark against the Seawolves. Coach Legette-Jack staggered Fair, Hyman, Woolley, and company, always having multiple ball-handlers who can get their own shot up. This was a big question heading into the season, and it’s great to see coach Legette-Jack use that to her advantage.

This defense has elite upside: It’s way too early, but the defense looks to be in mid-season form. At the very least, it will be exponentially compared to last year.

Next game on the agenda:

With a season-opening victory at home at Stony Brook, Syracuse will look to improve to 2-0 against the Colgate Raiders on Thursday, November 10th at the JMA Wireless Dome. In 2021-2022, Colgate was just 6-24 last season and 4-14 in the Patriot League. Last season, the Orange defeated the Raiders 79-57 at home.