The loss marked the end of an 11-18 that was always going to be difficult after the mass exodus of players from last year’s team because of poor treatment from former head coach Quentin Hillsman.
Vonn Read came in on an acting basis and sandwiched a six-game winning streak around a disappointing start and frustrating finish to the season. Despite optimism heading into January, the Orange did not have the depth or size to legitimately compete in the ACC.
The Orange pummeled Clemson at the Carrier Dome back in December, but Wednesday was a different story. Syracuse shot above 50 percent from the field and 13-of-28 from three in the first matchup, but could not come close to replicating those numbers in the rematch.
Part of the reason why was because Syracuse simply didn’t have the legs it did back in December, during the winning streak. The Orange missed plenty of good looks and had several instances where they failed to get back on defense and allowed easy Clemson scores.
Syracuse shot 29-of-73 (40 percent) from the field and only made 4-of-24 from beyond the three-point line. They forced 23 Clemson turnovers but lost the rebounding margin 42-29 and allowed 52 points in the paint.
Teisha Hyman was always going to go down swinging. She scored a team-high 25 points (and added eight assists and seven rebounds) but needed a staggering 28 shots to get there. Chrislyn Carr had 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting in her final collegiate game.
Alaysia Styles scored 11, Naje Murray had 7, and Christianna Carr finished with 6 in their final games in Orange.
First-team All-ACC selection Delicia Washington absolutely dominated the game and finished with 33 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists. Her effort on Wednesday may end up being the best individual performance in the ACC Tournament.
Hannah Hank added 17 on 7-for-8 shooting, Amari Robinson chipped in with 12, and Daisha Bradford scored 11 points in the Tigers’ victory.
Clemson flipped the script from the first meeting shooting 56 percent from the field even though it only shot 3-of-11 from three.
Clemson won the game without the services of former Orange guard Kiara Lewis, who left the team and basketball as a whole about a month ago.
After taking an early 9-6 lead less than two-and-a-half minutes into the game, the Orange went cold, only making two field goals in the rest of the quarter. A layup from Hyman made it 21-16 Tigers after ten minutes.
Clemson set about extending its lead in the second period as Syracuse struggled to take care of the ball. The Tigers scored the first eight points to take a 29-16 lead with 7:22 left in the first half. A three from Clemson’s Madi Ott made it 36-22 with 3:27 left.
We’ve seen the Orange get down big in the last few games, but this time, they fought back when they needed. A score from Chrislyn Carr capped a 7-0 run to make it a 36-29 contest with just over a minute left in the half.
After Clemson’s Delicia Washington got a technical foul for taunting, the Orange made the free throw and got another last-second score from Hyman to make it 38-32 at the half.
Syracuse shot 1-of-10 from three in the first half but scored 12 points off 14 Clemson turnovers to keep itself in the game.
Any momentum the Orange had vanished with a cold start to the second half. Washington scored twice to make it a 44-34 game with 6:50 left in the third. Syracuse got the deficit back to 50-44 after a Murray steal and layup, but Clemson had the answer and extended the lead back to 10.
Syracuse made it 54-49 with a Chrislyn Carr jumper and went into the fourth quarter trailing 58-51 after another Hyman score near the buzzer.
Murray hit a three to make 58-54 15 seconds into the fourth, but the Orange could not come any closer. The Tigers used a 7-0 run, punctuated by a score from Washington to take a 67-56 lead with 7:02 left.
Frustrations boiled over as Styles picked up a technical with 5:03 left in the game and free throws gave Tigers a 72-57 advantage. Daisha Bradford applied the dagger, hitting a jumper to make it 76-59 with 3:44 left.
With the loss, Vonn Read’s tenure will likely come to an end. The off-season will be filled with question marks like the coaching situation and how whoever is in charge decides to rebuild the roster.