Is it time to start sounding the alarm for the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team’s struggles in the clutch?
In its Thursday evening matchup against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, the Orange succumbed to a fourth-quarter/second-half meltdown (again) as Georgia Tech held ‘Cuse to 5/18 shooting in the game’s final 10 minutes and 9/36 overall in the second half. Even though the Orange held a first-half lead for over 18 and a half minutes, Syracuse (13-6, 4-4) fell short for the second-straight game in its 69-57 road loss as the Yellow Jackets (10-9, 1-7) stormed back in the third and fourth quarters.
Both programs combined for five different lead changes and nine ties en route to what was a close game throughout. After trailing 31-30 at halftime, the Orange briefly regained a single-digit lead before momentum shifted in favor of the Yellow Jackets at the midway point of the third quarter, where an 8-0 GT run gave Syracuse’s opponent all it needed to surge out ahead and never look back.
Neither team led by more than six points until the midway point of the fourth quarter, when a 12-2 scoring run by Georgia Tech powered the Yellow Jackets to its first conference victory of the season.
The Orange struggled to finish off quarters despite keeping the contest close, with Georgia Tech going on different scoring runs to end each quarter. From the first quarter until the fourth quarter, the Orange were outscored 7-1, 9-2, 14-7, and 12-2 to end each period, respectively.
For its second-straight game, the offense struggled to build consistency outside of Dyaisha Fair, who finished with 17 points on 7/16 shooting with 4 rebounds and 5 assists. Dariauna was the next-best Orange with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
Outside of Fair, Syracuse’s guard rotation struggled to score efficiently against the Yellow Jackets. Teisha Hyman chipped in 15 points but in 22 field goal attempts, while the Alaina Rice/Georgi Woolley backcourt duo couldn’t buy a basket anywhere, combining to end Thursday’s game with 7 points on 2/12 shooting.
Syracuse got a taste of its own medicine with Georgia Tech outscoring the Orange 19-12 in points off turnovers as the Yellow Jackets’ offensive eventually caught fire late powered by a 39-5 margin in bench points. In total, four Georgia Tech players (Bianca Jackson, Cameron Swartz, Kayla Blackshear, and Tonie Morgan) scored in double figures.
The Orange lost by double-digits for the second-straight time and now fall to .500 in ACC play as its schedule gets progressively difficult from here.
Syracuse vs. Georgia Tech by the numbers:
- The Yellow Jackets outscored the Orange 21-10 in the fourth quarter.
- Fair and Hyman combined to shoot 14/38 (37%) from the field.
- ‘Cuse has now lost its last five matchups against Georgia Tech.
- Alaina Rice was the only member of the Orange to score off the bench.
- Syracuse is now 3-4 in its last seven games.
Biggest Takeaways of the Game:
Concerns in the clutch: For the second-straight game, Syracuse played well for most of the game but struggled with costly turnovers and unfortunate misses late in the game. Give credit to Georgia Tech for battling back just when it looked like the Orange would surge out ahead.
At the end of the day, consistency from start to finish continues to plague the team. coach Felisha Legette-Jack acknowledged that with this postgame statement:
“They took us out of the game and the best team won today,” said Legette-Jack. “They came firing for 40 minutes and we’ve got to figure out how to put 40 minutes together and we will.”
Mixed feelings on the playmaking front: Syracuse turned the ball over 15 times against the Yellow Jackets after struggling to protect the ball recently. Most notably, the Orange’s passing to its interior post-up players was much improved, allowing Lewis and Kyra Wood (7 points on 3/5 shooting) to get easy looks in the paint.
With that said, less than half of the Orange’s baskets came off of assists. Outside of Fair and Hyman on a good day, the lack of quality playmakers on this team is a bit of a concern to watch for, especially with how recent ACC opponents have trapped the Fair-Hyman duo at the top of the screen, forcing either the screener or the off-the-ball player to be forced to make a play off the dribble.
Regression to the mean: After averaging 56.6 points in its last two games, it’ll be interesting to see how Syracuse’s offense can bounce back in its upcoming slate of games. It’s only a two-game sample size, and we’ve seen the Orange put up points in bunches against Louisville and Clemson, who are both good-to-great defensive teams. Hyman and Woolley, in particular, need to develop some consistency moving forward if opponents are going to gameplan around stopping Fair.
Next game on the agenda:
Up next for ‘Cuse is a road battle with the #13 Duke Blue Devils (16-2, 6-1), who previously won its last 11 games before falling to #17 North Carolina by five points in its most recent contest. Duke is tied for first place in the ACC with #7 Notre Dame after being projected to finish seventh in the conference’s preseason poll.