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Syracuse women’s basketball: Louisville holds off Syracuse 86-77

‘Cuse goes 0-2 on Thursday.

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

History was not on the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team’s (10-3, 1-1) side entering its Thursday night matchup versus the ACC preseason favorite Louisville Cardinals (11-4, 2-0). The Orange hadn’t beaten the Cardinals on the road dating back to 2010, with Louisville entering the game having won 11 straight home games versus the ACC.

Despite a season-high 27 points from Syracuse’s Teisha Hyman, Louisville’s 16-4 run in the third quarter put the Cardinals ahead as much as 18 points, and the Orange’s late-game comeback fell short in an 86-77 loss on the road.

It was an intense game right from tip-off, with both teams fighting hard in what felt like a postseason environment. Both coaches received technical fouls in a matchup that did feature three ties and five lead changes by halftime. But ultimately, the Orange ran out of gas against an elite Louisville offense which shot 52% from the field and 7/17 from downtown.

The first quarter featured three different scoring runs, with Syracuse taking a quick 5-0 lead courtesy of a Dariauna Lewis layup and an open three from Alaina Rice. But a strong performance by Louisville guard Hailey Van Lith (9 points on 4/5 shooting in the first quarter) knotted things up at 21-21 by the end of the first quarter.

Thursday night featured a star-studded backcourt battle between the Dyaisha Fair and Hyman duo for Syracuse against Louisville’s guard trio of Van Lith, Morgan Jones, and Chrislyn Carr (the former Syracuse starting guard for the 2021-2022 season).

For the Orange, Hyman put up her best and most efficient performance so far this season, hitting tough jumpers while keeping Syracuse’s offense afloat. For context, Hyman shot 11/20 from the field overall, while the rest of the Orange shot just 15/49 overall and 4/16 from three as Syracuse struggled to generate enough points against an elite Louisville offense.

Fair struggled most of the night, entering halftime shooting just 1/10 overall as the Cardinals’ aggressive defense forced her into tough shots and contested jumpers throughout the night.

Syracuse led by as much as seven points, by a 13-point turnaround by the Cardinals put Louisville up 42-36 at halftime over Syracuse.

The Orange battled hard in the first half, but a strong 13-1 scoring run by Louisville put Syracuse down by as much as 18 points, with the Cardinals hot shooting from three (41%) and effort on the glass (47-31 rebounding margin) too much to overcome for ‘Cuse. It didn’t help that Louisville shot 10/15 overall in the third quarter alone, and it was a case of too little, too late for the Orange.

Syracuse falls to 1-1 in ACC play after the 86-77 loss to Louisville. For the Orange, Hyman led the way with 27 points as Fair (13 points on 3/18 shooting) struggled throughout the night. Lewis chipped in 12 points and 11 rebounds down low, while Alaina Rice quietly added 11 points on 3/5 shooting from the field. For the Cardinals, Van Lith scored 24 points on 64% shooting as three additional Louisville players finished with at least 12 points each in the Syracuse loss.

Syracuse vs. Louisville by the numbers:

  1. Hyman finished with her third 20-point game of the season, her first since the November matchup versus Purdue.
  2. Syracuse has now lost its last six games versus Louisville, with the Cardinals at least 70 points in each of those losses for the Orange.
  3. Syracuse’s defense gave up the second-highest field goal percentage (52.2%) to an opponent this season.
  4. Syracuse outscored Louisville 24-11 in points off turnover, but the Cardinals' 24-9 second-chance points margin proved too much to overcome.
  5. The Orange fall to 7-17 all-time versus the Cardinals.

Biggest Takeaways of the Game:

The math never worked out in Syracuse’s favor: The Orange battle throughout the game, but it was tough for the team to overcome Louisville’s offensive firepower. Syracuse can’t afford to lose both the offensive efficiency battle (38% from the field) and the rebounding battle (47-31, advantage Cardinals) and expect to win a tough road matchup like this one.

Fair’s struggles: It was a difficult night for Fair, who couldn’t get the outside shot to fall and struggled to finish in the paint against the physically-tough Cardinals. If she can settle down and improve the scoring efficiency by a hair, Syracuse is in a prime position to compete against the ACC.

The classic glass-half-full, glass-half-empty game: There are two ways to look at this game in hindsight for the Orange.

The glass-half-full take: Syracuse held its own against a Louisville team that entered the game scorching hot across the board. Remember, this is a Cardinals team that made the Final Four last season as a number-one seed. This is a powerhouse opponent, and the up-and-coming Orange were able to hold its own for most of the game.

The glass-half-empty take: Syracuse now falls to 0-3 in Quad 1 games, and concerns over the lack of shooting and size on this team are a true concern. It’s still early, but Syracuse needs to take advantage (as much as it can) of its matchups against the conference’s best.

Next game on the agenda:

Speaking of the ACC’s elite, it’s a quick turnaround for the Orange as Syracuse returns home New Year’s Day to take on the #6 NC State Wolfpack (11-2, 1-1) at home. Last season, NC State finished 32-4 overall and 17-1 in conference play, advancing to the Elite Eight in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. Syracuse will have a chance to redeem itself and look for that first Quad 1 victory Sunday night.