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Syracuse women’s basketball: Orange fall short 88-82 in late-game thriller versus Columbia

The Orange conclude their 2022-2023 season in a game that went down to the wire

NCAA Womens Basketball: Notre Dame at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

All good things must eventually come to an end, right?

There are certainly mixed emotions after the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (20-13, 9-9) came up on the short end of an 88-82 game versus the Columbia University Lions (26-5, 12-2). Syracuse’s 22-23 season ends in the Round of 16 of this year’s 2023 Women’s National Invitation Tournament.

After leading for almost all of the first half, Columbia fought back and went from being down in the single-digits to up to as much as 12 points. But, the Orange fought back and then some. With the Lions ahead of the Orange 83-81 with 34 seconds left to go, Columbia’s Kaitlyn Davis hit a tough foul line jumper to give the Lions a four-point lead, followed by a controversial Syracuse possession where a defensive foul against the Lions was overruled into a Georgia Woolley offensive foul, ultimately sealing Syracuse’s fate.

The Orange lost in the program’s first matchup ever versus Columbia in what turned out to be an offensive shootout. It brings an end to what’s been a surprising, well-accomplished bounce-back season for Syracuse in Felisha Legette-Jack’s first season as head coach.

Both teams traded baskets back and forth, but a 7-0 run saw the Orange go up 17-8, mainly by holding the Lions to 4/16 shooting out of the gate, including 0/9 from the three-point line. From the end of the first quarter onward, Columbia’s offense never let up, especially from the outside. After missing their first nine three-point looks, the Lions went 11/23 (48%) from three and 11/32 overall in the game. On the flip side, Syracuse managed just 5/19 shooting (26%) from behind the line.

Syracuse kept its lead for most of the second quarter, taking a 49-45 lead into halftime. That came in large part from Georgia Woolley, who finished with a career-high 30 points on 11/21 shooting overall and 3/8 from three in what was easily a season-defining performance for the Buffalo transfer.

In the second half, Columbia went from being down four to up 12 (69-57) in the third quarter as they solved Syracuse’s defense. Despite shooting just 6/20 in the quarter, Syracuse only managed to be outscored by eight points in the third frame, as the Orange entered the fourth quarter down 69-65.

While Syracuse did battle back and end up with some great looks down the stretch, it was a few plays here and there that stopped the comeback and ended an impressive one-year turnaround for the program.

Outside of Woolley’s 30 points, Dariauna Lewis capped off her collegiate career with 16 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 assists in an all-around effort. Dyaisha Fair chipped in 16 points on 5/18 shooting in the six-point loss.

And with that, this season officially comes to a close. The future of the program definitely looks strong for FLJ and company moving forward, especially with Dyaisha Fair’s return, new additions to the team via recruitment, and some great potential to grab some depth through the transfer portal.

Syracuse caps off its 2022-2023 season with a 20-13 record, a nine-win improvement compared to its 11-18 record last season. This includes an 11-3 record against non-conference opponents, a five-win improvement in ACC play, a near-NCAAW Tournament bid, and three incredible games in the WNIT.

Something special is brewing in Syracuse.

(On a side note: if you’ve gotten this far, I’d like to say thank you for all your support. I took this gig over two months before the season began, and I can’t begin to explain how incredible it’s been to cover this program since the first preseason game versus Le Moyne until Friday’s season finale. There’s a lot to look forward to moving forward, and I am so excited for what’s to come. So again, thank you.)