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Syracuse women’s basketball: Fair’s 27-point effort powers the Orange to 91-77 win over Clemson

Five members of the Orange scored in double-figures en route to the team’s best victory to date.

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

The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team sent its fans on an up-and-down rollercoaster multiple times during its Sunday afternoon matchup versus the Clemson Tigers.

Syracuse trailed as much as 10 points in the opening quarter, then allowed the Tigers to cut the Orange’s 17-point second-half lead down to four heading into the final minutes of the game.

However, a 24-1 run during the end of the first half and coming out of halftime, plus a combination of late-game defensive stops and fourth-quarter heroics from Dyaisha Fair and company, allowed Syracuse (12-4, 3-2) to secure a 91-77 road win over Clemson (11-6, 2-3).

The Orange got off to a slow start due to an early full-court pressure attack and great ball movement by Clemson, allowing the Tigers to secure eight assists on its first 10 baskets and force Syracuse into four early turnovers in the first quarter.

After trailing 27-20, Syracuse stormed back with an 8-0 run in the second quarter to keep the contest close, then pulled away to end the first half with a 16-1 run to give the Orange a 45-37 lead entering halftime. While Clemson’s Daish Bradford and Amari Robinson combined for 25 points on 50% shooting in the first half, the rest of the Tigers were held to 4/16 shooting from the field and 1/7 from three as the Orange ramped up its defensive intensity.

Syracuse kept its momentum going coming out of halftime, starting the third quarter off on an 8-0 run courtesy of back-to-back threes from Dyaisha Fair.

The Orange led the Tigers by as much as 17 points, and although Clemson was able to cut Syracuse’s lead down to as low as four points in the fourth quarter, a combination of some big-time shots by Fair, clutch defensive stops from Dariauna Lewis and Asia Strong, and disciplined ball-movement from Teisha Hyman and Georgia Woolley ultimately powered Syracuse to a 14-point victory on the road, securing its second win against an NCAA NET top 100 opponent.

Offensively, Fair (27 points, 8/15 from the field, and 6/11 from three) had her most impactful performance of this season as a scorer, keeping Syracuse’s offense afloat even as Clemson clawed back.

However, the biggest headline from Sunday’s game was the all-around effort by the Orange against the Tigers. Besides Fair, the Hyman-Woolley tandem combined for 25 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists, and 7 steals, excelling on both ends of the court. In the paint, the forward duo of Lewis (12 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals/blocks) and Strong (13 points, 10 rebounds, and +25 on the court) guided Syracuse to a plus-16 rebounding margin against Clemson, including a 21-13 advantage on the offensive glass and a plus-13 edge in second-chance points.

After the game, head coach Felisha Legette-Jack had nothing but praise for the way her team performed against the Tigers.

“It felt great to come together as one,” said Legette-Jack. “When no one cares who gets the credit, anything can happen. Five kids in double figures. Georgia Woolley was amazing. Teisha Hyman showed all the naysayers that she is our true point guard and she can handle her business. So proud of her.”

Syracuse vs. Clemson by the numbers:

  1. Fair’s 27 points tied her career-high as a member of the Orange.
  2. Syracuse’s 91 points scored were the most allowed by Clemson in the program’s history.
  3. The Orange move to 11-2 all-time against the Tigers, including 4-1 on the road.
  4. Syracuse secured its first ACC road victory of the season against Clemson.
  5. Since losing by nine points to Purdue on November 30th, Syracuse has now won seven of its last nine games.

Biggest Takeaways of the Game:

Fair plays as advertised: It felt good to see Fair not only have a great statistical game, but the individual numbers don’t tell the whole story. Against Clemson, she played within the flow of the offense, rarely looking to force up a difficult shot. Instead, she settled down and read the defense, making the extra pass to her open teammates. And as a scorer, she relied less on hero ball and more on letting her teammates find her open along the perimeter.

If Fair continues to trust her teammates, she’ll still be able to get her numbers and do it efficiently over the course of a game.

It’s time to take Syracuse’s offense seriously: I was a bit skeptical at first with how the Orange’s offense would look against an equally-talented Clemson that was allowing under 59 points per game. Instead, we not only saw Syracuse score 91 points but do it in a way where it looked unselfish. Huge credit should go to Hyman, Woolley, and Lewis for their playmaking today. It was a satisfying win across the board for Syracuse.

Setting sight on the bigger picture: The victory against the Tigers (65th in NET ranking) gave the Orange its most notable win of the season so far. Ideally, the Orange can hopefully keep its momentum going against Boston College Thursday night before facing an ACC gauntlet in late-January that includes #4 Notre Dame, #19 Duke, and a rematch against Louisville. If Syracuse can enter that stretch on a three-game winning streak, the Orange look to be in great standing heading into February.

Next game on the agenda:

Up next for the Orange is a second-straight road game, this time against the Boston College Eagles (13-5, 3-2) on Thursday night.