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Syracuse women’s basketball: Fair’s 36 points power Orange to 90-72 statement win over Virginia

The Fair-Rice backcourt combines for 54 points as Syracuse regains its magic at home.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Notre Dame at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team entered its Thursday night game versus the Virginia Cavaliers with a greater sense of urgency. The Orange entered the contest with three losses in a row, failing to score more than 57 points as the team’s offense seemed to lag behind the rest of the conference.

But against Virginia, Syracuse (14-7, 5-5) suppressed all the doubts with its scoring potential as the team reached 90 points for the first time since January 8 and just the fourth time all season en route to a 90-72 home victory over the Cavaliers (14-7, 3-7).

It was a high-scoring affair throughout the game as both teams combined to shoot above 47% from the field and at least above 42% from three. Virginia shot a ridiculous 7/12 from behind the line, but the Orange’s 12/28 performance from three powered the team to a big-time victory.

Dyaisha Fair spearheaded a night of redemption for Syracuse’s offense. She finished with a season-high 36 points along with 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 3 steals while shooting 11/16 from the field (69%), 8/11 from three (73%), and a perfect 6/6 from the foul line. Fair chipped in eight of the Orange’s 12 threes against the Cavaliers, which ties the record for most individual three-point makes in the program’s history.

This included a 17-point effort in the fourth quarter, as the Orange outscored the Cavaliers 25-14 in the final 10 minutes of the game, including holding Virginia to just one point in the last three minutes and change worth of action.

Alaina Rice also had herself a night, finishing with a career-high 18 points after tying her previous career-high in the Orange’s last game, while Georgia Woolley finally returned to form with a solid 17-point, 4-assist performance as the trio combined for 71 of the team’s 90 points.

To an extent, Syracuse did struggle defensively as four Virginia players scored in double-figures, but the Orange lockdown the Cavaliers’ efficient offense in the second half mainly by finishing with a plus-two margin (5-3) in blocks and a plus-five margin (11-6) in steals. Syracuse forced Virginia into 18 turnovers, taking advantage of the Cavaliers’ poor ball-handling en route to a 25-7 edge in points off turnovers. Syracuse simply had more scoring opportunities and converted on those chances.

The win gives the Orange its first victory since January 12, ending a three-game skid. More importantly, it also gave the Orange a big-time win against a Cavaliers team projected to be a “Next Four Out” program in ESPN’s latest bracketology.

Syracuse vs. Virginia by the numbers:

  1. Both Fair (36 points) and Rice (18 points) each set an individual season-high in points against the Cavaliers.
  2. The Orange’s 12 three-point makes was a season-high mark.
  3. Both teams combined for six different ties and eight lead changes.
  4. Syracuse held a lead for 33 of the game’s 40 minutes.
  5. The orange never trailed by more than three points (32-29) against the Cavaliers.

Biggest Takeaways of the Game:

Ask and answered: The expectation from this game was two-fold. Syracuse struggled to score recently because no one could generate points outside of Fair, and even then, Fair’s inefficiency didn’t make up for her reaching 16-19 points per game.

But against Virginia, the offense came back to life similar to how the Orange performed against Boston College and Clemson. The Orange’s outside shot was falling, the team was attacking the rim, and three of Syracuse’s rotation players all had big-time performances in a must-win game.

The return of the reserves: Staying on the subject of the Orange’s guard rotation, it was good to see both Rice and Woolley perform well in the same game. Rice has now finished 15+ points in her second-straight game, while Woolley finally returned to form after overcoming a recent shooting struggle.

If even one of the Rice-Woolley can give the Orange 15 points on decent efficiency, that will do wonders for Syracuse’s offense moving forward.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Notre Dame at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Seeing the bigger picture: Not only was this a must-win game, but it adds to the Orange’s resume against an opponent who ranked top-45 in the NCAA’s NET ranking heading into this game. From the perspective of Syracuse, the team really needed a confidence booster against an opponent with similar talent and better standing in the March Madness picture.

More importantly, it proved that on a good night, the Orange have the upside to beat a program in the top half of the conference.

Next game on the agenda:

Next up for the Orange is a rematch against the Louisville Cardinals (15-8, 6-4), which now becomes way more interesting given the Cardinals’ back-to-back losses and how well Syracuse fared on the road earlier this season.


Now it’s your turn: how do you feel about the Orange’s bounce-back performance against Virginia?