Thursday evening was a battle of the offenses between the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team and the Coppin State Eagles.
Syracuse (6-2) entered the contest coming off a road win versus Yale, while Coppin State (2-7) looked to avoid its fifth-straight loss of the season.
The story of the night: another new starting lineup for Syracuse, and definitely the most intriguing of the season to date.
In Thursday evening’s matchup against Coppin State, coach Felisha-Legette Jack used a starting lineup of Dyaisha Fair (G), Teisha Hyman (G), Georgia Woolley (G), Alaina Rice (G), and Dariuana Lewis (F).
As mentioned a couple of days ago, the starting lineup has been a topic of discussion. Rice and Woolley appeared to be fighting for the fifth spot. Against Coppin State, coach Legette-Jack tried something different.
Surprisingly, it worked across the board, especially on offense.
Fair put on a clinic in the first quarter— 'Cuse Hoops (@CuseWBB) December 9, 2022
ACCNX https://t.co/oW3jCyw1Hv pic.twitter.com/APqWtXgurd
Fair was hot right from tip-off, finishing with 18 points at halftime and taking total control of the Orange’s (once again) sluggish start on offense.
Similar to previous games, Syracuse built momentum as the game developed. After trailing for all of the first quarter, the Orange outscored the Eagles by ten to take a 51-45 halftime lead.
From there, Syracuse eventually pulled away thanks to the services of Fair and Hyman, who each scored at least 20 points and combined on the night for 47 points on 18/37 shooting, including 6/13 from three.
What a pass from Hyman to Strong!— 'Cuse Hoops (@CuseWBB) December 9, 2022
While it wasn’t the best defensive performance, Syracuse held Coppin State scoreless for nearly five minutes in the third quarter and held the Eagles to just 4/19 shooting in the fourth quarter to surge and ahead and take the lead for good.
In the end, Syracuse (7-2) defeated Coppin State (2-8) 93-75, securing its second-straight victory. Fair and Hyman scored just over half of the Orange’s points in the contest, while Asia Strong finished with 16 points and 3 rebounds in 20 minutes off of Syracuse’s bench.
There’s a lot to unpack, so let’s begin our postgame breakdown of the matchup between Syracuse and Coppin State.
Syracuse vs. Coppin State by the numbers:
- This is the fourth time this season that Fair has scored 20 points or more in a game.
- Despite some disappearing acts by the offense, Coppin State still finished with its second-highest team shooting efficiency of the season against Syracuse.
- Syracuse’s 31 points off the bench are the most by the team this season.
- One of the biggest margin differentials of the game was the disparity in made threes. Coppin State shot just 5/26 from behind the line, while ‘Cuse shot an efficient 8/20 from three. And, after shooting 4/10 from three in the first quarter, the Eagles shot just 1/16 the rest of the way.
- With 93 points on the night, the Orange recorded its highest-scoring performance of the season so far.
Biggest Takeaways of the Game:
Positives galore from the new starting lineup: As with any change in the starting lineup, it’s a game of gives and takes.
On the bright side, Syracuse’s offense looked greater after the first quarter for the rest of the game. Extra ball movement, limited turnovers (11 total for the Orange), and 16 assists on 29 baskets were a testament to having Lewis surrounded with four guards who can all dribble and make smart decisions.
Strong’s performance on the bench could make a swiss-army knife of sorts, giving her a clearly defined role on the team moving forward: microwave scorer on the bench who can play big minutes if any one of the fringe starters happens to be struggling. But on the flip side, the Orange sacrifice size, interior defense, and rebounding down low.
Is this a go-to starting lineup down the road? Or, is Coach Legette-Jack going to allocate playing time and roles on a game-to-game basis?
The defense goes missing in action: In our preview, the case was clear that Coppin State was better than what its record showed. Nonetheless, for an Eagles team that has shot poorly this entire season, the defensive slipups were common up until the middle of the third quarter.
After the game, coach Legette-Jack agreed that the offense looks great, but the defense still needs some work.
“It is a matter of them (the team) getting more involved defensively,” said coach Legette-Jack. “Offensively, we’re doing a fantastic job. We can score the ball, but we’re going to have to figure out how to stop people from scoring against us.”
Let’s see if the defense can look as good as it did against Yale and most of the Orange’s non-conference opponents with play against the ACC on the horizon.
Fair’s scoring streak continues: It was another huge night for Dyaisha Fair, and it’s hard to not admire the load she is shouldering on the scoring front. The question of whether she can sustain this over the course of an entire season in a conference like the ACC remains a concern. However, the sample size is there, and Fair could be on track (yet again) to be one of the best isolation scorers in all of the NCAA.
Next game on the agenda:
The Orange will look to secure its third-straight victory against the Wagner Seahawks on Sunday at the JMA Wireless Dome. This season, Wagner sits at 4-4 on the season, coming off a six-point loss to New Hampshire. Last year, the Seahawks finished 17-12 overall and 10-8 in the Northeast Conference.