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Syracuse women’s basketball sneaks past Pitt 67-65

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NCAA Womens Basketball: Syracuse at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Syracuse Orange women’s basketball earned a thrilling 67-65 victory of the Pitt Panthers on Sunday afternoon at the Peterson Events Center in Pittsburgh. The win meant Syracuse’s first winning streak in ACC play this season.

The Orange came into the game with a 20-game winning streak over the Panthers. The last time Pitt beat Syracuse was Jan. 30, 2009. The Orange were down as much as 13 in the early proceedings but grinded out the comeback to earn the 21st straight victory over their rivals.

The free-throw line was Syracuse’s best friend down the stretch. Even as the Orange endured a six-minute scoring drought, they still managed to find scoring by drawing fouls and converting from the charity stripe. With her team in the bonus, Alaysia Styles drew a foul under her own basket with just over a minute left. She swished the two freebies to give her team a 65-63 lead.

Syracuse’s first lead since 3-2 didn’t last long, as the Panthers tied things at 65 with a layup Liatu King. With the game on the line, the ball was only going to one person: Teisha Hyman.

Hyman sat on 29 points going into the deciding possession. It was an isolation play through and through. She bided her time and coolly hit the go-ahead shot with 10 seconds left. Pitt called timeout to advance the ball but could not get the game-tying shot to fall at the buzzer.

Teisha Hyman and Alaysia Styles combined for 52 of Syracuse’s 67 points. Hyman starred with 31 on a 10-of-17 shooting performance and also made 11-of-12 from the foul line. Styles had 21, including a perfect 10-of-10 effort from the charity stripe.

The normally dependable Naje Murray struggled mightily, failing to find her way onto the score sheet on an 0-for-11 shooting day. She did come up big on the defensive end, forcing an airball on Pitt’s game-tying attempt.

Similar to the Virginia game on Tuesday, the Orange did not shoot very well from the field. They only managed a 34 percent mark from the floor and shot just 2-for-20 from three-point range. Once again, Syracuse won this game from the foul line. They shot 25-of-28 from the stripe and a perfect 10-for-10 in the final ten minutes.

Jayla Everett swished a three to give the Panthers a 26-13 lead with 8:32 left in the second quarter. The Orange were ice cold from three but started to find success inside the arc. Hyman hit a jumper to make it a 32-27 deficit with 2:41 left and made another mid-range shot to bring it to 34-31 at the half.

Despite a 1-of-13 mark from three, the Orange made 7-of-9 from the field to close out the first half and get back into the game.

Pitt grew its lead to 42-33 with a Cynthia Ezeja bucket with 6:57 left in the third. Syracuse didn’t let the Panthers get any further ahead, but it could only manage to trade baskets for most of the third quarter.

The Orange had trouble keeping their hosts off the offensive all afternoon long. Pitt’s Rita Igbokwe grabbed a missed free-throw, finished the putback, and drew a foul to help send her team to the fourth quarter with a 56-49 lead.

Hyman was determined on the offensive end and scored on a layup to bring the Orange within 58-55 with 7:30 left. Hyman kept on keeping on, getting to the foul line on back-to-back possessions and making all the freebies to tie the game at 61 with 4:13 left.

Sunday’s game marked the beginning of a busy stretch for the Orange. It was the beginning of a four-game, seven-day stretch for Syracuse. The Orange are back in action on Tuesday when they host Florida State at 6 p.m.