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Syracuse women’s basketball: the Orange fall just short against #6 NC State

Syracuse was this close to pulling off the New Year’s Day upset.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Stony Brook at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Despite trailing for over 27 minutes worth of game time against #6 NC State (11-2, 1-1), the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (10-4, 1-2) led by nine points with just 10 minutes to go in the Orange’s first matchup against a ranked opponent this season.

However, the Wolfpack’s 16-5 run in the 4th quarter capped off by a game-ending turnover from Syracuse’s Teisha Hyman with 3.9 seconds left ultimately led to the Orange suffering a 56-54 loss, its second straight against the ACC.

It was a defensive fight from start to finish for both programs, with Syracuse and NC State combining for 39 turnovers total in a game that saw each team shoot below 34% from the field. From three, the Wolfpack shot 2/17 from downtown despite entering the game with the sixth-highest three-point percentage (39.9%) in the NCAAW. The Orange fared no better, shooting 6/25 from three in what became a tug-of-war over who could put the ball in the basket.

Syracuse trailed as much as 12 points in the first quarter, shooting just 5/18 after the game’s first 10 minutes. The Orange trailed the rest of the first half, cutting the Wolfpack’s lead to 34-26 by halftime.

The third quarter saw Syracuse play its best 10-minute stretch yet, outscoring NC State 23-6 and holding the Wolfpack to 2/14 shooting with five turnovers in the quarter. A 10-0 run to start the half allowed the Orange to tie the contest back up courtesy of this steal and score by Georgia Woolley:

Woolley easily had her best scoring game of the season, finishing with a season-high 23 points on 9/15 shooting from the field and 4/8 from three. Next to Dyaisha Fair, the duo combined for 37 of the team’s 54 points.

The Orange didn’t get much help from the rest of its supporting cast. Teisha Hyman, Alaina Rice, and Asia Strong combined to shoot 0/12 from the field with 6 turnovers in the first half. In particular, Hyman played horrendously the entire night, finishing with her first scoreless game since December 2019. Against the Wolfpack, Hyman finished with 0 points on 0/6 shooting with seven turnovers.

Despite its struggles, Syracuse led 49-40 at the end of the third quarter, by the team failed to capitalize on its lead, with the Orange shooting just 2/15 from the field and 0/8 from three in the contest’s final 10 minutes.

Syracuse now falls to 1-2 in ACC play, losing back-to-back games for the first time this season and dropping its first home game after starting off 9-0 at the Dome.

Besides Woolley’s 23-point effort, Syracuse didn’t get much help on offense from the rest of the team. Fair finished with 14 points on 6/23 shooting and 1/9 from three, while the trio of Dariauna Lewis, Strong, and Hyman combined for just seven points on 2/16 shooting against the Wolfpack.

Syracuse vs. NC State by the numbers:

  1. Both teams combined to shoot 41/127 (32.2%) from the field.
  2. Syracuse now falls to 0-4 against Quadrant 1 opponents.
  3. The Orange are now 4-11 all-time against the Wolfpack.
  4. Syracuse held NC State to 22 points in the second half despite the Wolfpack owning the 26th-best scoring offense entering the game.
  5. Syracuse was held scoreless for over eight minutes in the 4th quarter.

Biggest Takeaways of the Game:

The Woolley and Wood show: The loss to NC State will be a tough pill to swallow for coach Felisha Legette-Jack and company, but I was very impressed with how Woolley and Kyra Wood played against the Wolfpack.

Woolley’s performance has been well-documented up to this point, but it was great to see her finally showcase her scoring punch given the shooting struggles for Fair and Hyman.

As for Wood, the final stat line (2 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 3 steals) doesn’t do her justice for how well she competed defensively. She was incredible on the defensive side of the ball, preventing easy looks for NC State (especially alongside Lewis). Offensively, her ceiling is limited, but her size and length make her difficult to score against and a major contributor on the rebounding front.

NCAA Womens Basketball: ACC Tournament-Clemson at Syracuse William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

Hyman’s meltdown: After a season-high 27 points against Louisville in Syracuse's last game, Hyman easily played her worst game of the season, struggling from start to finish. It was an out-of-character performance for the 2022 All-ACC honorable mention candidate, and the Orange need her to be smart and aggressive if the team wants to survive against the conference’s best of the best. Fingers crossed she can move on from Sunday night.

Keep your head up high: As I said, this loss isn’t an easy one to deal with. And yes, Syracuse still doesn’t have a Quad 1 win. However, the Orange held one of the best offenses in the country to just 56 points on 33% shooting. Since 2019, the Wolfpack have been in the AP top 25 for 34 straight weeks, posing a 94-13 record overall (including a 45-8 record against the ACC). And yet, Syracuse held its own yet again. If this is the case against the ACC’s juggernauts, the Orange can bounce back against the mid-tier and lower-tier programs in its conference.

Next game on the agenda:

Next up for the Orange is a matchup Thursday evening at home against the Pittsburgh Panthers (7-7, 0-3). Pittsburgh was voted last in the conference in a preseason poll. Last season, the Panthers finished 11-19 overall and 2-16 against the ACC.