The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (17-11, 8-9) faced a must-win scenario heading into its final game at the JMA Wireless Dome this season against the Miami Hurricanes (17-10, 10-6). Projecting to finish as a “First Four Out” program in ESPN’s latest bracketology update, it was a case of survive and advance Sunday afternoon for the Orange.
And yet, ‘Cuse simply will not go away this season without a fight. Coming off back-to-back road losses to #10 Notre Dame and #24 Florida State, the Orange stormed back 77-68 over the Hurricanes as five players from Syracuse scored in double-figures for the first time since Jan. 12. The victory was a much-needed resume booster for the Orange, as the Hurricanes project as a nine-seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament per ESPN.
Watch the highlights from today's win over Miami pic.twitter.com/3t2SE3KWs3— 'Cuse Hoops (@CuseWBB) February 19, 2023
Syracuse entered the contest averaging 40% shooting from three as a team in its last seven games. While the Orange just missed that mark against the Hurricane (SU shot 39% at a 9/23 clip from three), the outside shot powered Syracuse consistently throughout the game, including a strong 6/10 start from downtown.
Multiple reserves shined in the win, including Asia Strong (10 points, 5 rebounds, 3/6 from downtown) and a surprising spark from freshman Kennedi Perkins, who finished with a career-high 13 points on 85% shooting in 16 minutes off the bench. Both carried the Orange’s offense early, allowing the team to build-up an early lead as ‘Cuse led for nearly 38 of the game’s 40 minutes. Saniaa Wilson also chipped in 8 points and 7 rebounds in 23 minutes off of the bench.
The Orange did get its usual production from the starters, headlined by 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists from Alaina Rice and 14-point performances from Dyaisha Fair and Georgia Woolley, who combined to shoot 9/22 from the field and 6/8 from the foul line with 10 assists between the starting guard pair.
Miami led early in the first quarter (4-2), but back to back threes from Fair and Woolley powered the Orange a small lead courtesy of an early-quarter 8-0 run. From there, both teams struggled offensively as Syracuse was held scoreless for nearly three first-quarter minutes, while Miami made just one of its nine field goal attempts up to that point.
Syracuse’s defense held strong against Miami, holding the Hurricanes to multiple stretches without a made field goal. That allowed the Orange to extend its lead by as much as 16 points (57-41) with under four minutes left to go in the third quarter.
Although the Hurricanes cut the Orange’s lead down as low as six points in the fourth quarter, timely baskets handed Syracuse arguably its second-most impressive win of the season.
In the end, the math worked out in favor of the Orange against the Hurricanes. Despite similar margins in rebounding and the possession battle, Syracuse’s outside shooting overcame a 52-34 points in the paint deficit against Miami.
The Orange won its 14th game at home this season, which is the most the program has had in the Dome since the 2010-2011 season. Attendance-wise, it was one of the program’s most impressive games with over 4,500 fans at the Dome on Sunday, the third-most in a home game for Syracuse this season.
After the game, the Orange also celebrated “Senior Day” to commemorate the play of seniors Fair, Rice, Strong, Dariauna Lewis, and Ava Irvin.
Next game on the agenda:
Syracuse hopes to end its regular season on a winning note as the team suits up to take on the Pittsburgh Panthers (10-17, 3-13) on the road. The Orange defeated the Panthers 89-71 earlier this season.
TNIAAM: A big-time home win over Miami could propel the Orange into one of the last few spots in the 2023 NCAA Tournament? What stood out to you from today’s game, and can Syracuse sneak into the postseason? Leave your thoughts on the Orange’s chances down below.