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Syracuse women’s basketball: what to watch for versus Wagner

Can the Orange make it seven-straight wins at home?

Syndication: Journal-Courier Alex Martin/Journal and Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

After a month’s worth of action, the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team remains undefeated at home. The Orange will look to continue that trend heading into its matchup against the Wagner Seahawks on Sunday afternoon at the JMA Wireless Dome.

Syracuse (7-2) enters the game coming off back-to-back wins against Yale and Coppin State, while Wagner (4-4) looks to return back to above-.500 after a close loss to New Hampshire Monday night. Last season, the Seahawks finished 17-12 overall and 10-8 in the Northeast Conference.

Tip-off is at 2 pm, with the game also being available for streaming on the ESPN+ ACC Network.

It may not seem like it, but in the bigger picture, the contest between the Orange and the Seahawks does have some stakes in it. This is Syracuse's second-to-last nonconference opponent of the season as things gear up soon toward conference play. After its game against the Seahawks, the Orange will make its ACC debut next Sunday at home against Wake Forest.

Can ‘Cuse stay hot before conference play ramps up?

Here are some things to watch for heading into the matchup between Syracuse and Wagner.

Question #1: Can the Orange torch the Seahawks from three?

On paper, Syracuse enters the contest with all the major statistical advantages that cater toward an Orange victory, including rebounding, the turnover margin, and offensive efficiency. But, the most interesting stat has to be the three-point shooting offense and defense for both programs.

Currently, Syracuse is shooting 30% from three, which ranks 198th across the NCAA. But thanks to the improved defense, the Orange are holding opponents to a surprising 25.3% from behind the line, which ranks 46th across the NCAAW landscape. While the scoring isn’t there, the team is doing a great job of letting teams get hot from three, especially in the second half based on its performance in recent games.

Wagner enters the game giving up a 33% clip from downtown. If there’s any game for the Orange to get hot from three, it would ideally be this one.

Question #2: What’s Asia Strong’s role moving forward?

With the season continuing, the starting lineup remains an interesting talking point. Head coach Felisha Legette-Jack rolled out another different starting unit against Coppin State, opting to go with Dariauna Lewis down low surrounded by Syracuse’s four best guards on the roster.

That meant that Asia Strong, after starting in the Orange’s previous eight games, came off the bench for the first time this season. The result: an efficient 16-point performance in just 20 minutes.

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

Strong has had her scoring moments before, from the Coppin State effort to her 4/6 shooting from three against Purdue that kept the Orange alive in that matchup. Interestingly, Strong and Alaina Rice have each won the team’s hard hat award after being sent to the bench.

Strong is a capable scorer and gives the Orange some versatility at forward. Against Wagner, we’ll have to see how her role potentially changes given her great performance against Coppin State.

Question #3: Completing the sweep of New York.

If you count the team’s only exhibition game of the season against Le Moyne, the Orange are now 7-0 against the New York state portion of its schedule.

The fanbase should feel pretty happy with the early-season results from Syracuse: playing close matchups against Purdue and Penn State, while absolutely taking care of business against the teams the Orange were expected to beat.

If the team can secure a win against Wagner, ‘Cuse looks to be in a great spot heading into conference play.

All Syracuse has to do now is finish sweeping the state on Sunday.