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Syracuse women’s basketball: Orange’s upset bid versus #20 Maryland falls short in 83-81 loss

It was a matchup that went down to the wire.

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

In a hard-fought battle where both teams combined for 21 lead changes and 12 ties, the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (3-1) fell short on the road in an 83-81 road loss to the #20 Maryland Terrapins (2-2) on Sunday afternoon.

Despite holding Maryland to mid-thirties shooting from the field for most of the game, Syracuse’s offense simply ran out of gas even as neither team held more than a three-possession lead. Down two with around 10 seconds remaining, Syracuse forced a Maryland turnover and had the chance to win the game or send it into overtime, but the Orange didn’t even get a shot off.

While the Orange did fall short on the road (and in pretty dramatic, heart-wrenching fasion), the signs of improvement compared to how the team fared against ranked competition last season remain very promising. Syracuse outscored Maryland 20-11 in the second quarter to take as much as a six point lead in the game, but the Terrapins caught fire in the second half and just held on long enough.

Georgia Woolley returned as a starter for the first time all season to lead Syracuse with 21 points on 7/16 shooting. Her value, especially on offense, proved to be much-needed as Dyaisha Fair ended with just 13 points on 3/16 shooting. The rest of Syracuse’s starters —Alaina Rice (13 points), Alyssa Latham (11 points) and Izabel Varejão (12 points) — also finished in double-figures.

Woolley made an immediate contribution on the offense end to get her season officially started, pulling up for a mid-range jumper on the Orange’s first possession. She ended the first quarter alongside Latham as the only two players for Syracuse to have a field goal in the game’s first 10 minutes. Latham led the way with 8 points and 3 rebounds while Woolley had 6 points.

Syracuse either held a slim or lead or was tied with Maryland for most of the first quarter, with Legette-Jack opting to play a conservative, slower pace to give the Terrapins less opportunities to turn turnovers into points. Regardless, Maryland’s offense started hot out of the gate with 8/17 shooting, with Allie Kubek’s nine first quarter points leading the way.

Syracuse trailed 24-18 at the end of the first and faced an eight-point deficit early in the second, but Maryland’s offense started to cool as Syracuse began to get some good looks going. The Terrapins began the second quarter shooting 1/12 from the field as the Orange began to claw back and retake a 27-26 lead with four minutes left in the first half — at this point, Latham and Woolley combined for 16 of the Orange’s first 25 points.

Syracuse’s defense proved to be pivotal in the Orange storming back in the first half. Syracuse took as much as a six-point lead (36-30) and entered halftime with a 38-35 lead over the Terrapins.

The Woolley-Latham duo had 19 points in the first half, while Rice and Varejão had 7 points each while making big-time energy plays on defense. Dyaisha Fair was held to 3 points on 0/4 shooting out of the gate, meaning that the rest of the team had to step up offensively. Kubek and Lavender Briggs combined for 17 in the first half for Maryland, who shot 4/20 in total in the second quarter alone and 32% in the game’s first 20 minutes.

Maryland took a one possession lead as both teams continued to battle back and forth. The Orange turned the ball over way more as the Terrapins switched to a full court press, changing the pace of the game. Latham also picked up her fourth foul at the 7:30 marker if the third quarter, meaning Legette-Jack also had to go deeper into her bench.

Fair started to get going in the middle of the third quarter and nailed back threes, sparking an 8-0 run that allowed the Orange to build a 60-53 lead with around 13 minutes of total game time left. Maryland stormed back with an 8-0 run of its own as Syracuse continued to struggle beating the full court press from the Terrapins, the Orange held a 62-61 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Syracuse fought tooth and nail, hitting clutch shots to stay within striking distance and getting one final chance to keep the upset bid alive. Rice caught the inbound with less than 10 seconds to go, but give credit to Maryland for putting enough pressure and give Syracuse no look at the basket.

The Orange will have a chance to get some retribution this upcoming weekend in Las Vegas, where Syracuse will take on Northern Iowa and Iowa State in back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday.

The good news for Syracuse: this will end up as up as one of the Orange’s toughest opponents all season, and there will still be plenty of time to get back on track. The not-so-good news: the Orange will need to find a way to pretty up its resume and finish getting the job done about its tougher opponents.