The losing streak is finally over. Let’s get that out of the way first for the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team’s (16-9, 7-7) most resume-boosting victory to date Thursday night against the #14 North Carolina Tar Heels (17-7, 8-5).
‘Cuse entered the game with an 0-7 record against NET top-50 opponents, including an 0-4 record to programs ranked in the AP top-25. Those defeats usually stemmed from injury, running out of steam offensively, or a failure to execute in the clutch by the Orange.
But against the Tar Heels, Syracuse bucked its losing trend against the ACC’s best of the best. After keeping things close throughout the first half, ‘Cuse outscored North Carolina 31-14 in the third quarter powered by big-time performances from Dyaisha Fair, Georgia Woolley, and Dariauna Lewis, then held off the Tar Heels in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Both Fair (23 points on 8/17 shooting and 4/9 from three) and Woolley (20 points on 6/13 shooting and 3/7 from three) generated enough offense that was absolutely critical for the Orange’s strategy of outscoring a tough, defensive-minded Tar Heels program. Both of Syracuse’s lead guards also combined to chip in 8 rebounds, 9 assists, and 7 steals collectively, stuffing the stat sheet and stepping in when the Orange needed it most.
Lewis also shined against a powerhouse UNC program, finishing with 14 points and 15 rebounds as she secured her ninth double-double of the season in easily her best two-way statistical performance this season. She kept the Orange aggressive in the paint, as Syracuse outrebounded North Carolina 43-29 en route to the victory.
Teisha Hyman also shined despite only suiting up for 19 minutes of action, finishing with 9 points on an efficient 4/6 shooting, giving the Orange a spark to keep the contest close in the first half for the Orange.
Dyaisha Fair led the Orange to a big win over No. 14 UNC, scoring 23 points with 7 assists!— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) February 10, 2023
Georgia Woolley also had a big night, recording her 5th 20 point game of the season and adding 5 rebounds!@CuseWBB | #ACCWBB pic.twitter.com/XgJpkdbv3G
The game was a back-and-forth contest between both programs, with seven different lead changes taking place in the first quarter alone as the Orange jumped out to a slim 16-14 lead powered by 11 combined points from Lewis and Hyman. Syracuse was only 2/8 from three in the first 10 minutes of game time but finished 5/7 from two-point range during that same stretch.
Things looked to be slipping away for the Orange in the second quarter. North Carolina outscored Syracuse 20-16, but the Orange shot just 3/12 overall from the field heading into halftime, while UNC caught fire and shot 4/9 from three in the quarter alone. Two of those makes were from three, and the math didn’t appear to be adding up for ‘Cuse at first glance heading into the second half.
And then, the momentum of the game flipped in favor of the Orange like a light switch.
With the game tied at 34-34 with over nine minutes left in the third quarter, Syracuse proceed to outscore the Tar Heels 26-11, with Fair and Woolley combining to chip in 21 of those points. The Orange were scorching hot, shooting 71% from the field coming out of halftime, including 4/5 from three.
Despite a hard-fought effort by Tar Heels, Syracuse held on long enough in the fourth quarter to secure an eight-point home win over UNC. The Orange secured its 13th home win of the season, the most by a program in a single season since Syracuse’s 2017-2018 program.
Huge credit also to coach Felisha Legette-Jack, who earned her first victory over a ranked opponent in her tenure with the Orange.
Next game on the agenda:
Riding high on its victory over #14 UNC, Syracuse hopes to continue making some late-season noise Sunday afternoon in a rematch against the #10 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (19-4, 10-3).
Now it’s your turn: talk about an upset! What did you notice from the Orange’s biggest win of the season to date? Can Syracuse keep its momentum going heading into its last few games? Leave your thoughts down below.