A long offseason wait proved to be worth it after the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team unofficially kicked off its 2023-2024 campaign Tuesday evening with a 77-53 exhibition win over the College of Saint Rose Golden Knights.
The new-look Orange dominated from the start and never looked back, and the home victory shined a light on what looks like a promising second year for coach Felisha Legette-Jack and the program.
Syracuse went up 28-11 by the end of the first quarter and stole the game in dominant fashion — with the Orange shooting a combined 12/16 from the field as a team while holding the Golden Knights to a 5/20 performance on offense in the game’s first 10 minutes. From there, Syracuse extended its lead to a game-high 22 points late in the third quarter and never showed signs of slowing down.
The two stories of the night: a) Dyaisha Fair remains the superstar she was for Syracuse last season and b) the Orange’s newcomers from Legette-Jack’s productive offseason proved they can be immediate impact players.
Freshman guard Sophie Burrows, in particular, stole the show with 20 points on 6/8 from three off the Orange’s bench. Burrows’ quick release from downtown and the scoring punch she provides brings a new element to Syracuse, especially with plays like these in transition:
Two other newcomers for the Orange, freshman forward Alyssa Latham and the veteran center Izabel Varejão, each finished in double-figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively. Varejão filled the stat sheet by adding six rebounds and four blocks in her 21 minutes of action.
Moving forward, Varejão will look to give Syracuse the added size, rebounding, interior rim protection and low-post scoring the program will need especially by the time ACC play comes around. Latham, the only freshman who started in the exhibition game, looks like the multi-level scorer who can elevate the Orange’s offense improve from great to elite.
Of course, the Orange’s season outlook begins and ends with Fair — who also tied Burrows for a game-high 20 points on 7/15 shooting (3/8 from three).
Similar to last season, Syracuse relied on its potent transition offense and outscored Saint Rose in fast break points (a 21-2 advantage) and points off turnovers (more than doubled the Golden Knights).
The notable change for the Orange, at least for now: this team actually has some capable perimeter players who are willing to take the outside shot and make them at a decent rate. Syracuse finished 11/28 (39.3%) from three against Saint Rose, and that was with presumptive perimeter starter Georgia Woolley out for the game (writer’s note: Woolley had a class during the game).
After the win, Legette-Jack provided a bit of clarity about her recovery from a recent, unspecified medical procedure. While Legette-Jack did not specify anything about the procedure itself, she did admit needing to change her coaching style, which she said involves “less passion” than she normally brings to the game. Listen, having Legette-Jack on the court right now is all we can ask for right now.
Legette-Jack and the Orange hope Tuesday’s win can be a good sign as the eyes continue to remain on the NCAA Tournament prize.
Syracuse will make its official debut next Tuesday against the Lafayette Leopards. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. in the JMA Wireless Dome.
Now it’s your turn: what did you notice from the Orange’s 24-point win over Saint Rose?