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Syracuse women’s basketball gets 77-70 victory at Virginia

The Orange finally get a road win

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

Syracuse Orange women’s basketball picked up a 77-70 win against the Virginia Cavaliers on Tuesday night at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville for its first road victory of the 2021-22 season.

The win was just Syracuse’s second triumph in its last 10 games. Tuesday’s contest at Virginia was a makeup from Jan. 16 after that game was postponed due to inclement weather.

The Cavaliers have been a punching bag for the rest of the ACC. Virginia came into the game losers of 11 straight (10 of those in conference play) and with the worst offense in the league, averaging 53 points per game, more than eight points per game behind Georgia Tech, who sits second-to-last in that category.

The Orange were smarting from a 100-64 loss at home to Louisville on Sunday but took the opportunity to extract a small measure of revenge on the hapless Cavaliers. It was a game that Syracuse needed to win against one of the worst teams in the power five.

It wasn’t always pretty, but the Orange took care of business. Syracuse only shot 39 percent from the floor and 7-of-26 from three, but it did force 21 Cavaliers turnovers. The Orange may have won the game at the free-throw line, shooting 26-of-31 (84 percent) on the night.

Naje Murray had a season-high 24 points to pace all scorers on 8-of-11 shooting, including a 5-of-7 mark from distance.

Chrislyn Carr added 14, including a 10-of-10 mark from the foul line, Teisha Hyman had 13, and Christianna Carr had 10.

Alaysia Styles went to the locker room after taking a hard fall in the early minutes but was able to check back in later in the first quarter and finished with eight points, the same total as Alaina Rice.

A deep three from Murray, her third triple in the first 10 minutes, gave the Orange a 22-12 lead after the first quarter. Murray outscored Virginia by herself in the first, putting up 13 of her 24 points.

It looked like the Orange might take complete control of the game, going up by 13 early in the second quarter. Then, Syracuse’s offense sputtered and stalled, going without a basket for six minutes. Virginia could not apply enough pressure during the Orange drought, and despite only making three field goals in the second quarter, Syracuse led 35-26 at the break.

The Orange took full advantage of Virginia’s tendency to start slow in the second half. Threes from Murray and Christianna Carr were part of an 11-0 run that made it 48-29 in favor of the visitors with 6:36 left in the third.

Once again, the Syracuse offense slowed down, going 1-for-9 over the last five minutes of the third and allowing the Cavs to pull within 52-40 with 10 minutes left in the game.

Virginia continued to pull closer with two triples from Amandine Toi pulling the home team closer at 54-46 with 8:42 left. A shot-clock beating layup from Alaina Rice built Syracuse’s advantage back to 60-50 with five minutes left and another three from Murray to make it 65-51, served as the dagger with 2:23 left.

The Cavs tried in vain to extend the game, but Syracuse was in control down the stretch.

The Orange didn’t have their “A-game” but the performance was good enough to beat a team like Virginia. Syracuse now sits at 10-12 overall and 3-9 in the ACC. Syracuse doesn’t have much hope of earning a first-round bye in the ACC Tournament, but a strong performance down the stretch could vault them into the 10-seed and set up a rematch with the Cavs.

Syracuse returns to action on Sunday at Pittsburgh at 2 p.m. The Orange defeated the Panthers 80-72 at the Carrier Dome in the teams’ first meeting on Jan. 30