In a matchup that ESPN’s Charlie Creme declared a “must-win” situation, the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (18-12, 9-9) simply ran out of steam in the second half to the NC Wolfpack (20-10, 9-9) in a tough season-ending loss for the Orange.
Despite only trailing by as much as three points in the third quarter, a huge disadvantage in paint points for Syracuse coupled with poor offensive execution saw the eighth-seeded Orange go down as much as 25 points late in the fourth quarter, ultimately falling 83-58 to the ninth-seeded Wolfpack in the second round of the 2023 ACC Tournament.
Despite some strong play in the fastbreak, Syracuse’s offensive stars struggled to build consistency from start to finish on both ends of the court. The team shot just 33% from the field, including 3/20 (15%) from three as Dyaisha Fair (11 points on 4/17 shooting), Teisha Hyman (15 points on 5/15 shooting), and Georgia Woolley (14 points on 5/13 shooting) all playing below their typical production in the loss. Meanwhile, the Orange gave up a 54-24 advantage in points in the paint for the Wolfpack, ultimately sealing Syracuse’s loss in what could be the season finale for this year’s team.
Both teams were each 5/8 to begin the game in what started off as an offensive shootout, with Syracuse getting most of its points from turnovers in fastbreak opportunities while NC Stae focused on ball-movement and good shot selection in the half-court.
Syracuse led 6-0 early in the first quarter but a scoring run by NC State put NC State ahead 17-12 at the end of the first quarter, as the Wolfpack finished the quarter making five of its last seven field goal attempts. Despite both teams shooting a high efficiency, turnovers (eight combined for both teams) were a commonality early, although Syracuse managed to get eight of its 12 first-quarter points in transition, while the NC State duo of River Baldwin and Jakia Brown-Turnerr combined for 13 of NC State’s first 17 points in the first 10 minutes.
Georgia Woolley is back!— 'Cuse Hoops (@CuseWBB) March 2, 2023
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NC State surged ahead to begin the second quarter, extending its lead by as much as nine points (26-17) as the orange began the period on a brief scoring drought. But towards the middle of the quarter, a combination of missed shots and sloppy play by the Wolfpack saw the Orange claw back to being only down 26-24 with under four minutes left to go in the second quarter.
The Orange were down 32-26 at halftime, with the guard duo of Dyaisha Fair and Teisha Hyman combining for 13 of Syracuse’s 26 first-half points. Syracuse cooled off in the second quarter as its shooting percentage fell to 38% overall, but a 13-7 advantage in points off turnovers kept the team alive despite NC State shooting above 50% from the field after two quarters.
You can't leave Stretch open on the baseline. It's a BUCKET every time— 'Cuse Hoops (@CuseWBB) March 2, 2023
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NC State caught fire to begin the second half as it gave Syracuse a taste of its own medicine offensively. After trialing just 34-31 early in the second half, the Orange gave up a 7-0 scoring run as it fell behind 47-35 with just over four minutes left to go in the third quarter, with the 12-point deficit being its largest of the game up to that point. NC State scored on nine of its last 10 possessions at one point in the third quarter, getting good looks inside while taking advantage of Syracuse’s poor outside shooting, which led to long rebounds for the Wolfpack and one-possession trips for the Orange.
Syracuse barely held on and minimized the damage a bit, trailing 55-44 to end the third quarter as Syracuse’s offensive struggles continued. NC made six of its last eight field goal attempts to end the period, shooting 60% overall from the field up until this point compared to Syracuse’s 38% shooting.
A 7-0 run in the fourth quarter by the Wolfpack coupled with five straight missed shots by the Orange saw Syracuse down 64-46 with six minutes left to go. Just when the Orange made back-to-back plays, NC State responded with great ball movement and big-time shots down the stretch, going up as much as 25 points late to hand the Orange a tough 83-58 loss in the second round of the ACC Tournament.
And now, the Orange will have to await their postseason fate on Selection Sunday. Syracuse will either clinch its first tournament berth in the Felisha Legette-Jack era on March 12 at 8 p.m. on ESPN or end up falling just short of a postseason appearance in the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
And now, we wait...
TNIAAM community: that was a tough loss for the Orange? What needs to improve on-the-court for Syracuse moving forward, and is there still a chance at a postseason berth? Leave your thoughts down below.