The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team secured back-to-back victories in Las Vegas at the South Point shootout, marking a successful Thanksgiving weekend for the squad. Syracuse showcased their prowess by defeating Northern Iowa with a final score of 71–54 and overcoming the formidable Iowa State team, with a dominant 87–69 victory. That game ended with the Orange on an 8-0 run, as they shut out ISU for the last three minutes of the game.
The Orange’s win against Iowa State holds particular significance, as it marks Syracuse’s first power conference victory of the season. Despite a narrow two–point loss on the road against a ranked Maryland team, Syracuse has otherwise maintained an impressive 5-1 record, demonstrating their potential as a force to be reckoned with in the NCAA. The victory was no easy feat since Iowa State has consistently performed well in the Big 12 conference.
Despite initial disagreement, coach Legette-Jack opted to employ a zone defense in the second half, effectively neutralizing Iowa State’s shooting. This strategic adjustment, devised by the assistant coaches, played a pivotal role in Syracuse’s victory. Legette-Jack commended her staff for their contributions, acknowledging that their collective efforts ultimately led to the team’s success. Led by standout players Alaina Rice, Dyaisha Fair, and Georgia Woolley, Syracuse displayed their offensive prowess and relentless defense throughout the tournament.
Full Dyaisha Mode
In the game against Northern Iowa, Fair finished with 9 points. It was the first time she didn’t reach double figures in her Syracuse career. While Fair didn’t reach double figures, her defensive tenacity and overall performance (she added seven rebounds) were noteworthy. She came back stronger in the game against Iowa State and played like an All-American from start to finish. Fair finished with 29 points and 8 rebounds. Her determination was evident as she scored the first field goal for the Orange, setting the tone for the rest of the game. What makes Fair’s performance even more remarkable is her ability to take care of the ball. With zero turnovers, she displayed exceptional ball-handling skills and decision-making on the court.
The “Triples” Threat
Alaina Rice’s initial three years at Syracuse were marked by limited playing time, resulting in missed potential for both herself and the team. However, she has now been given the chance to step up as a team leader and has delivered double-digit performances in every game so far. In the game against Northern Iowa, Rice had 17 points and played a significant role on both ends of the court. Against Iowa State, she achieved a new career-high for points, scoring 26 points and shooting 4 for 6 from beyond the arc. Rice seems to have an almost supernatural ability to knock down triples consistently. Her exceptional three-point shooting has become a valuable asset for Syracuse, with an impressive 11-for-15 from beyond the arc in the last four games. Rice’s versatility was on full display, contributing not only as a scorer but also as a rebounder and defensive force. In addition to showcasing her long-range prowess, Rice exhibited her driving and finishing abilities, fearlessly navigating through defenders and finishing with finesse even through contact. Her ability to make an impact without constant ball possession is truly noteworthy. Although turnovers are a part of the game, Rice’s two turnovers were a rare blip in an otherwise exceptional performance, one which earned her MOP honors.
⭐️ ⭐️— 'Cuse Hoops (@CuseWBB) November 26, 2023
Alaina Rice is the 2023 South Point Shootout Most Outstanding Player
She had a career-high 26 points vs Iowa State, shot 70% from downtown over the two-game stretch and averaged 21.5 points per game. pic.twitter.com/Zs7HZtVEDo
The All-Around Player
Georgia Woolley showcased her versatility in the game against Northern Iowa, coming close to achieving a triple-double. She contributed 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists, along with an impressive defensive display. Woolley’s scoring capabilities were on full display, as she made all 11 of her free throw attempts. Although her offensive contributions were limited against Iowa State, her defensive prowess, particularly in grabbing three steals, proved vital to Syracuse’s victory.
With a 5-1 record this season, the Orange will face the Alabama Crimson Tide in the inaugural ACC/SEC Challenge. Let’s take a closer look at Syracuse’s recent success and what lies ahead for the team.
Compared to last year, Syracuse has witnessed a transformation on the court. The Orange have been making winning plays, particularly in the crucial fourth quarter, showcasing their ability to remain focused and excel under pressure. With each player stepping up and showing improvement, the team appears stronger than ever setting the scene for a promising season.
The Orange have a 4-0 record at the South Point shootout. The last time Syracuse ventured to Las Vegas was during the 2015-2016 season when they won both their games. That year, the team went on to reach the national championship game, leaving fans with high expectations for future seasons. The Orange hope to continue this wheel of good fortune. Is it premature to begin discussing the national championship? You tell me.