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Syracuse women’s basketball: what to watch for vs. Yale

Can the Orange finally secure a road dub?

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

Third time’s the charm? That’s what the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team is hoping will come to fruition as the program continues its play on the road.

The Orange (5-2) are looking to break its early season road losing streak. After falling to Penn State and Purdue, Syracuse hopes to buck the trend against the Yale Bulldogs (4-4).

Entering the contest, Yale is coming off two straight losses, with five of its first six games on the road to begin the year. Last season, the Bulldogs finished 16-11 overall and 9-5 in the Ivy League Conference.

Here’s what to watch for between Syracuse and Yale.

Question #1: Can the Orange capitalize on the Bulldogs’ lax offense/

After allowing 87 points on the road to Purdue, Syracuse is hoping to build up a defensive reputation in a non-home game setting. The team will have a great chance against Yale, who currently ranks last in field goal percentage and third-to-last in three-point percentage in the Ivy League Conference.

Looking at the schedule, now would be a great time for the Orange to put up a strong defensive performance in this game’s type of environment and against a relative-quality team. After Yale, Syracuse takes on Coppin State and Wagner, two teams weaker in talent. After that, the Orange kick off its play against the ACC with a home matchup against Wake Forest.

If there’s a time to have a game won by the defense, now is the time.

Question #2: Can Dariauna Lewis and Asia Strong hold up down the road?

Lewis and Strong each bring their unique set of pros and cons to the table, but both have held up well so far in fixing up the Orange’s lack of interior defensee and intensity last season.

Starting off with Lewis (11.0 PPG, 10.5 RPG, and 2.5 BPG) continues to excel on both ends of the court. Crutially, she’s been a big component of Syracuse’s limited but impactful transition offense, and her defensive performance so far has already been well documented. Down the road, it’ll be interesting to see if Lewis can become a bigger focal point of the offense.

As for Strong (10.6 PPG, 6.9 RPG, and 37% from three), she’s had her moments as a microwave scorer and outside shooter. Similar to Lewis, I’m hoping her volume from the mid-range and three-point areas continue to rise, especially because her shooting gives more space for Dyaisha Fair and Teisha Hyman to attack the basket.

Against Yale, Lewis and Strong will be up against the Bulldogs’ first-place ranking in offensive rebounds. As always, controlling the possession and rebounding margins will be critical for Sunday’s game.

Question #3: Who will secure their spot as the 5th starter?

Fair, Hyman, Lewis, and Strong are all safe in the starting lineup. That seems to be a certainty given all their individual performances and how they work together on the work.

The fifth starter, however, is arguably still in flux.

After coming off the bench to start the season, Georgia Woolley has started the past couple of games for Syracuse. Statistically, the results have been mixed. Her outside shooting is valuable, but the ability hasn’t translating to her numbers so far (10/28 from the field and 3/11 from three this season).

Then there’s Alaina Rice, who was starting before being relegated to a bench role in the past two contests. Rice also hasn’t shot the ball well (13/39 from the field and 5/19 from three this season), but her ball-handling could be nice either as a starter or off the bench.

One of Rice or Woolley will need to emerge as a legitimate starter if Syracuse is looking to be a legit team this season. How that plays out will be a narrative to watch for as the season continues.