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Syracuse women’s basketball: Fair-Rice backcourt guides Orange to 81-69 statement win over Iowa State

Syracuse hits the jackpot in Vegas.

Syracuse v Virginia Tech Photo by Ryan Hunt/Getty Images

The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (5-1) surged ahead in the second half to beat the Iowa State Cyclones (2-3), the reigning Big 12 champions, 81-69 on Saturday afternoon. The win means Syracuse came away on top at the 2023 South Point Thanksgiving Shootout and ended its trip in Las Vegas with consecutive wins.

After struggling in the Orange’s 71-54 win over Northern Iowa, Dyaisha Fair finished with a season-high 29 points on 12/25 shooting (3/8 from three) along with 8 rebounds and 3 steals. Fair and Alaina Rice, who ended with a career-high 26 points, combined for 55 of the Orange’s 81 points in the win. An all-around effort by Kyra Wood (13 points and 10 rebounds) helped the Fair-Rice backcourt get Syracuse over the finish line in what is now Syracuse’s best resume-building win of this season.

Audi Crooks scored 23 points to lead Iowa State, while Addy Brown finished with 19 points. No other player for the Cyclones finished in double-figures, with the Orange most notably forcing 16 total turnovers against Iowa State (compared to just five for Syracuse). The game was tied at the end of the first and second quarters, but a run by the Orange in the third quarter propelled Syracuse to a lead which it never gave back for the entire second half.

After failing to reach double-digits in points for the first time as a member of the Orange, Fair came out looking to score right from the jump. She started off 4/6 from the field and had 8 of Syracuse’s first 15 points, allowing the Orange to take an early 15-13 lead.

The offenses for both Syracuse and Iowa State were each scorching hot in the first quarter. Fair and Alaina Rice combined for 16 points in the first quarter, while the Orange ended the quarter shooting 5/6 from the field and 56% overall. The Cyclones relied early on moving the ball around — eight of the first nine baskets from Iowa State came off of an assist.

The first quarter saw eight different lead changes and no team led by more than three points, but the game remained tied at 22-22 heading into the second quarter.

Both teams continued to go trade baskets, but a three-minute stretch without a field goal allowed Syracuse to go on a 6-0 run and take a 31-26 lead with less than five minutes to go in the first half. The Orange’s lead grew to as much as six points (34-28) in the first half, but the Cyclones ended the second quarter with three straight field goals to bring the game back to a 39-39 tie heading into halftime.

Fair and Rice combined for 29 of the Orange’s 39 first half points, while the trio of Addy Brown, Audi Crooks and Nyamer Diew combined for 31 points after two quarters. 15 of Iowa State’s 16 field goals in the first half came off of assists, but the Orange did force the Cyclones into seven first-half turnovers.

Momentum appeared to shift right at the start of the third quarter. A 7-0 run by the Orange in under two minutes forced Iowa State to call an early timeout as Syracuse took a 46-39 lead with eight minutes left in the quarter. Syracuse began the half on a 14-5 run to take as much as an 11-point lead (55-44), with the team at one point scoring seven times in eight tries. Back-to-back makes by Iowa State, however, trimmed the Orange’s lead back to six.

While the Cyclones cut the Orange’s second-half lead to as low as five points, Syracuse temporarily halted any change in momentum and entered the fourth quarter up 65-59.

Suddenly, the scoring battle turned into a defensive one in the fourth quarter. Syracuse went 1/7 during one stretch in the quarter while Iowa State was held scoreless for nearly two and a half minutes.

Despite the Cyclones cutting the Orange’s lead to as low as three points, timely baskets from Rice and Fair ultimately put the game away for good. ‘Cuse ended the game on an 8-0 run and held Iowa State scoreless for the last three minutes.

The Orange will look to continue its hot streak against non-conference opponents on Thursday night when Syracuse hosts the Alabama Crimson Tide as part of the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge.