Sometimes, things just aren’t meant to be.
That was the case for the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (14-8, 5-6) in its Sunday afternoon home matchup against the Louisville Cardinals (16-8, 7-4). Despite entering the game with the momentum seemingly on the Orange’s side, a combination of injuries to Syracuse’s players, a second-half surge by the Cardinals, and Louisville’s all-around offensive attack resulted in ‘Cuse falling short 79-67 in the Dome against the Cardinals.
Three of Syracuse’s five starters dealt with injuries that ruined any chance at a big-time victory over Louisville. Teisha Hyman played just five minutes in the first quarter (2 points on 1/4 shooting) before exiting for the rest of the game. Dyaisha Fair appeared to suffer an ankle injury of some kind in the first quarter, and while she did return for the remainder of the game (finishing with 19 points and 4 assists on 50% shooting and 5/7 from three), she clearly looked limited moving on both ends of the court. Asia Strong was unavailable for Sunday’s contest, while Alaina Rice (3 points on 1/9 shooting) played just 17 minutes after taking a hard fall late in the first quarter and was held scoreless once she returned.
Syracuse got off to a strong 6-0 start, leading 15-13 after the first quarter despite both programs each shooting under 32% from the field with 12 combined turnovers in what started off as a defensive slugfest.
Louisville shot out of the gate in the second quarter, taking advantage of Syracuse's lack of depth en route to an 8-0 run which had the Orange down as much as 10 points. But the Orange stormed back strong, with a 16-2 run turning a 12-point deficit into a five-point lead (34-29).
Both teams improved their shooting percentage to at least 41%, with Syracuse taking advantage of a 7/11 first-half performance from three while Louisville excelled in transition with a 17-5 margin in fastbreak points by halftime and saw nine different Cardinals’ players score a basket despite star guard Hailey Van Lith being held to 3 points on 1/6 shooting with three turnovers in the first half.
Heading into the third quarter, Syracuse was up 36-34. From there, the magic finally began to wear out for ‘Cuse.
The Cardinals outscored the Orange by 14 points in the second half, with Louisville kicking off its run shooting 9/15 from the field and 3/6 from three, ending the third quarter on a 7-0 run as Syracuse was outscored 28-17. This layup by Georgia Woolley cut the Orange’s deficit back to single digits with plenty of time left in the fourth quarter.
Louisville led as much as 21 points in the fourth quarter (79-58), with a late-game 9-0 cutting the Orange’s deficit to 12 points by the final buzzer. Fair and Georgia Woolley combined for 39 points in a game where the Orange’s depth was tested, while ten different players scored for the Cardinals in an all-around effort
Syracuse vs. Louisville by the numbers:
- Syracuse has now lost four of its last five games.
- 25 of Louisville’s 31 baskets came off of assists.
- Both teams combined for 37 turnovers.
- The Cardinals outscored the Orange 35-7 in transition points.
- Despite the lack of offensive firepower, Syracuse still finished 10/20 from three.
Biggest Takeaways of the Game:
Round of applause: Obviously, the Orange were dealt a brutal hand with Fair, Hyman, Rice, and Strong all dealing with injuries of varying severity. With that said, freshman guard Kennedi Perkins stepped up for a career-high 24 minutes with Syracuse’s guard depth dwindling, while Saniaa Wilson played 31 minutes in a solid performance. It wasn’t the outcome the team wanted, but give credit to the bench for coming in and playing against a Louisville program known for its two-way depth. Losing by 12 points is no shame, but...
An uncertain future: Syracuse fans will need to count their lucky stars and find whatever rabbit’s foot exists hoping for some good health. On a lighter note, Hyman was able to walk off on her own effort, while Fair and Rice both returned to action. With that said, the Orange will need all of its four dinged-up players moving forward if the team even wants a chance to compete against these ACC powerhouse programs.
The glass-half-empty, glass-half-full approach: Part of me is honestly relieved the Orange only lost by 12 points despite all of the obstacles which clearly hindered the team’s chances of an upset victory. But, as I stated in the preview, Syracuse is going to need to score 75-80 points against its conference opponents if it wants to pull off some big-time wins. The lack of depth and persistent defensive concerns remain a problem that will need to be addressed the rest of the way.
Next game on the agenda:
Up next for the Orange is another tough matchup, this time on the road Thursday evening against #12 Virginia Tech (17-4, 7-4).
Now it’s your turn: how do you feel about the Orange’s puzzling loss to Louisville? Can Syracuse bounce back amid its recent skid?