The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball fell to its eighth defeat in nine games, losing in blowout fashion to the No. 4 Louisville Cardinals 100-61 on Sunday afternoon at the Carrier Dome in a game Syracuse never led.
The 36-point loss is Syracuse’s biggest defeat since last season’s NCAA Tournament loss to UConn.
The Orange put a scare into the Cardinals at the KFC Yum! Center a few weeks ago, but Louisville executed extremely well on offense and never let Syracuse feel like it was in the game. Louisville put its foot on the gas pedal and outscoring the Orange 50-25 in the second half.
The Cardinals shot 53 percent from the field despite a 7-of-22 effort from three-point range. Once again, they showcased their superior size and depth. Louisville outscored the Orange 58-20 in the paint and won the rebounding battle 55-26.
All nine Cardinals that saw action scored. Liz Dixon had a perfect outing, scoring 18 on 8-of-8 shooting. Kiarra Smith added 16, and Hailey Van Lith had 10. Former Orange star Emily Engstler battled foul trouble but still managed to earn a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds, along with six blocks.
The Cardinals got plenty of production from the bench, with their reserves outsourcing Syracuse’s 43-12.
Louisville’s domination showed why they can compete for a national title.
On the flip side, Syracuse struggled against one of the best defenses in the country. The Orange only managed to shoot 24 percent in the second half, including a 3-of-12 mark from three-point range after shooting 7-of-14 in the first half.
After getting thrown out at Miami the other night, Naje Murray led Syracuse with 16 on 6-of-12 shooting. Chrislyn Carr added 14, and Teisha Hyman needed 14 shots to get to 10 points.
Louisville took a while to separate itself in the first matchup back in January, but quickly got some breathing room with a 14-4 run to start the game. The Orange were powerless to stop the Cardinals’ offense in the first half. Louisville scored a season-high 30 points in the first quarter and led by 13 after ten minutes.
Syracuse’s offense got clicking in the second quarter, but it could only trade scores with the visitors. Teisha Hyman hit a three to make it 38-30 with 5:53 left in the half, but the Cardinals just kept scoring. Louisville broke the Orange down inside, scoring 30 first-half points in the paint. A jumper from Hailey Van Lith made it 50-39 in favor of Louisville at the half.
In the opening minutes of the second half, Syracuse got some stops but could not pay it off on the offensive end. Liz Dixon made a second-chance layup to stretch the lead to 63-48 just under three minutes left in the third, and the Cardinals took a 65-50 advantage into the fourth.
The Orange have made a habit of making late charges in the second half, but Louisville made sure to quickly drain any hope out of the home team. Kianna Smith nailed a three to make it 72-52 with 8:36 left. Engstler scored a couple of late buckets to extend the margin to 83-58 with five minutes left.
No. 3 NC State is the only ranked team left on Syracuse’s schedule in the regular season. The Orange will need a strong finish to secure a winning season.
It will be a short turnaround for the Orange, who will travel to Charlottesville to face the Virginia Cavaliers at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. That begins a stretch of five games in 12 days for Syracuse. The Orange were supposed to play the Cavaliers last month, but the game got postponed due to inclement weather.