The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team trailed for over 80% of the time in Sunday afternoon’s matchup versus the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Syracuse might’ve been down, but it wasn’t out.
A monster 4th quarter run powered by the Orange’s defense and some late-game heroics from Dyaisha Fair allowed Syracuse to take the lead for good in the game’s final minutes, handing the Orange a 67-58 victory in its first ACC game of the 22-23 season.
Syracuse (8-2, 0-0) entered the game coming off three-straight wins, while Wake Forest (8-3, 0-1) looked to get its first win in the ACC after falling by 20 points to Virginia earlier this season.
In Sunday afternoon’s matchup against Wake Forest, coach Felisha-Legette Jack used the same starting lineup that made its debut in the Orange’s last game versus Coppin State: Dyaisha Fair (G), Teisha Hyman (G), Georgia Woolley (G), Alaina Rice (G), and Dariuana Lewis (F).
Today's starting 5⃣ for the ACC opener vs. Wake Forest. pic.twitter.com/ARVCbDV9Ff— 'Cuse Hoops (@CuseWBB) December 18, 2022
Syracuse generated most of its shots by running its offense through Dyaisha Fair and Teisha Hyman, who each looked to get going right from tip-off. Fair’s hot shooting (8 points and 2 threes in the first) kept the Orange on with the Demon Deacons, despite Syracuse’s early defensive struggles.
Wake Forest attacked the paint early (14 of 18 points in the paint for the first quarter) and passed the ball seamlessly, with all eight Demon Deacon field goals in the first quarter coming off of assists. Despite all those hurdles, Syracuse only trailed Wake Forest 18-15 by the end of the first quarter.
However, Fair’s great play and some better defense by Syracuse sparked a 7-0 at the end of the second quarter, cutting Wake Forest’s lead to just 32-30 by halftime. Fair led Syracuse with 13 points on 5/11 from the field and 3/6 from three, while the rest of the team combined for just 6/18 from the field and 0/8 from three.
One possession game at halftime.— 'Cuse Hoops (@CuseWBB) December 18, 2022
Tune in to the second half on @accnetwork pic.twitter.com/QMtPXkJlZc
In the second half, both teams cooled on offense, with Wake Forest going cold from three and Syracuse struggling with turnovers and one-trip offensive possessions. The Orange and Demon Deacons combined for just 25 points on 10/33 shooting from the field and 1/9 from three in the third quarter, with Syracuse trailing just 44-43 to begin the fourth quarter.
Syracuse turned up the hustle in the 4th quarter, generating some good fastbreak opportunities off of great defensive awareness and better effort. By the middle of the 4th quarter, Syracuse took its then-largest lead of 49-46 over Wake Forest.
Stringing together some big plays down the stretch.— 'Cuse Hoops (@CuseWBB) December 18, 2022
We have ourselves a game!
ACC Network pic.twitter.com/krNvwhdRtj
It was a back-and-forth race to the finish line, but after trailing 53-52 with four minutes to go, the Orange ended the 4th quarter on a 14-5 run to propel Syracuse to its first victory against the ACC, with Fair and Strong guiding the team to a strong finish in the contest.
Syracuse (9-2, 1-0) defeated Wake Forest (8-4, 0-2) 67-58, securing its first win against an NCAA top-100 team this season. Fair led the Orange with 25 points on 7/19 shooting, while Strong (11 points and 11 rebounds) and Georgia Woolley (7 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists) jolted Syracuse’s offense enough to sneak by with the win. Despite the slow defensive start, the Orange forced the Demon Deacons to shoot under 39% from the field and 5/20 from three.
There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s dive into some of the biggest takeaways from Syracuse’s win versus Wake Forest.
Syracuse vs. Wake Forest by the numbers:
- After a slow first quarter, Syracuse outscored Wake Forest in every quarter the rest of the way.
- Both programs combined to shoot 8/40 from three.
- Syracuse relentlessly attacked the rim in this game, shooting 20/24 from the foul line compared to just 5/7 for Wake Forest.
- The Orange led for just 5 minutes and 36 seconds worth of game time.
- The game featured three different ties and 9 total lead changes between both teams.
Biggest Takeaways of the Game:
It ain’t over until it’s over: As predicted before this game, whoever held out until the very end would come out with the win.
Syracuse played inconsistently for three quarters, but the 4th quarter was dominated by the Orange thanks to its improved defensive effort and some tough shots by Fair. The Orange got the job done, and give credit where credit is due to Lewis and Strong in particular for bouncing back strongly in the 4th quarter after struggling for most of the game.
Fair puts her critics to bed: Fair joined Syracuse as one of the best scorers in the country. The real question was whether that offensive production could translate against the ACC, which has proven this season to be one of the deepest conferences in the NCAAW.
On Sunday afternoon, Fair’s 25 points all but kept Syracuse alive in what was an overall struggle by the rest of the team to score. Especially in isolation, she still has the ability to attack the basket over bigger defenders. It was a wonderful sight to see with 18 more games against the ACC still left to go.
Implications galore with the win: The Orange’s win versus the Demon Deacons checked a lot of boxes. For starters, Syracuse secured its first conference win and its first victory over a top-100 NET team. More importantly, it gives the Orange a chance to reach the 10-win marker by mid-December, an impressive feat for a team still adapting to all the program’s changes. Lastly, it proved that even had the team lost, this year’s Syracuse roster will not go down without a fight.
Next game on the agenda:
The Orange will look to secure its fifth-straight victory and remain undefeated at home when the team takes on the University of Albany Great Danes, an American East Conference program that currently sits at 6-7 overall. With a win, Syracuse could move to 6-0 versus other New York state programs.
WATCH: Highlights from the ACC opener vs. Wake Forest pic.twitter.com/nUpB5poHGG— 'Cuse Hoops (@CuseWBB) December 18, 2022