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Syracuse 87, Albany 64: the Orange improve to 9-0 at home behind Fair’s 26-point effort

Syracuse caps off non-conference play this season by improving to 6-0 against in-state opponents.

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

Even with the early wake-up call Tuesday morning, the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team got some much-needed energy from the over 7,300 fans and 35 local schools in attendance. That proved to be the only motivation needed for the Orange in its 87-64 win over the Albany Great Danes.

Syracuse’s starters combined for 78 (!!!) of the team’s 87 points in Tuesday morning’s win, including a strong run in the 4th quarter that ultimately propelled the Orange to its fifth-straight victory.

For Syracuse (10-2, 1-0), the win extends the Orange’s record versus New York state programs to 6-0 this regular season and meant that Syracuse becomes just the third team in the ACC (Virginia and Virginia Tech.) to reach the double-digit win marker at this point in the season. On the other side, Albany (6-7) hoped to turn its season around coming off a 25-point defeat to #3 Ohio State.

Both teams traded baskets early in the first, with Albany hitting multiple tough shots despite a good job by the Orange of forcing turnovers and forcing the Great Danes into late shot-clock possessions. Back-to-back shots by Dyaisha Fair and a three from Georgia Woolley gave Syracuse a quick start on offense points, but a last-second three by Albany’s Freja Werth gave the Great Danes a 15-13 lead after the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Fair continued her scoring output while her backcourt partner Teisha Hyman caught fire just minutes before halftime. Despite Syracuse’s defensive effort, Albany’s 4/10 shooting from three kept the Great Danes in control to end the first half.

Syracuse trailed Albany 34-32 at halftime, with Fair and Hyman combining for 21 of the team’s 34 first-half points, while the rest of the team shot just 5/15 from the field.

In the second half, Syracuse started off with an improved intensity and better play from its frontcourt duo of Dariauna Lewis and Asia Strong. After a three to start the quarter by Albany, Syracuse went on an 8-0 run in under two minutes, powered by Fair’s playmaking and some tough interior baskets by Lewis and Strong. The trio powered Syracuse to take a 57-52 lead by the end of the third quarter.

In the fourth quarter, it was all downhill for Albany. Syracuse outscored Albany 30-12 and shot 65% from the field in the game’s final 10 minutes, with the Orange shutting down the Great Danes’ three-point attack and forcing 22 turnovers in the process.

Syracuse ultimately defeated Albany behind some strong performances from the starters and a major second-half surge. Fair finished with an efficient 26 points on 10/18 shooting, with the frontcourt duo of Strong and Lewis combining for 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 steals while shooting 11/21 from the field. Hyman added 14 points on 50% shooting, while Woolley (12 points, 5/9 from the field, 2/4 from three, and four steals) finished with her best performance as a member of the Orange.

There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s dive into some of the biggest takeaways from Syracuse’s win versus Albany.

Syracuse vs. Albany by the numbers:

  1. With her 26-point effort, Fair secured her sixth 20-point game of the season.
  2. All of Syracuse’s rotation players shot 50% or better from the field versus Albany.
  3. After starting off 4/10 from three, the Great Danes finished just 2/11 the rest of the game.
  4. Including its exhibition against Le Moyne, the Orange are now 7-0 against New York Division I teams this season.
  5. Tuesday morning’s game featured the largest crowd in the Dome this season for Syracuse women’s basketball, with 7,311 people in attendance.

Biggest Takeaways of the Game:

The Strong gets stronger: Coming off of Syracuse’s bench, Asia Strong proved how much her two-way play can swing the momentum of a game at a moment’s notice. Strong flashed a little bit of everything in her arsenal, from the jump shot and her second-chance efforts on the rebounding front to her ability to play passing lanes and finish around the rim.

Strong’s 18 points were her most since Syracuse’s nine-point loss to Purdue on November 30th. The Orange are 5-0 since the defeat, and Strong’s performance has been a big reason why.

The starters came to score: It’s hard to look away from the fact that Syracuse’s five starters scored 78 of the team’s 87 points. It’s even crazier considering every starter also shot above 50% from the field while on decent volume. You have to love what coach Legette-Jack got from her starting unit.

Woolley and McEvans begin to show promise: Georgia Woolley and Cheyenne McEvans both have had up-and-down seasons so far, but against Albany, each finished with amazing performances.

Statistically, Woolley played her best game of the season by miles, especially with the four steals and the 5/9 shooting. In an ideal world, she can generate turnovers that spark Syracuse’s lethal fastbreak offense without sacrificing size or versatility. If she can keep making her outside shots, it’s almost impossible to not have her out on the court.

As for McEvans, she may not be the most polished scorer or stat sheet stuffer, but her defensive versatility and the chaos she causes are an added bonus. Even in a 10-15 minute per game role, McEvans will be valuable moving forward if her defensive effort stays good while her offensive game continues to evolve.

Next game on the agenda:

Syracuse is off until December 29th, when will take on the Louisville Cardinals (9-4, 1-0) on the road in the team’s final game of 2022. Last season, Louisville finished 29-5 overall and 16-2 in the ACC. This preseason, the Cardinals were voted by the ACC’s Blue Ribbon Panel as the favorites to win the conference.