With the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team heading into off-season mode, it’s time to take a look back at some of the biggest moments from the program’s first season under head coach Felisha Legette-Jack.
The Orange finished with a 20-13 record overall this past season, a nine-win improvement from last year’s 11-18 campaign. That included five additional wins against the ACC, a postseason berth, and two double-digit wins in the 2023 Women’s National Invitation Tournament.
In light of this season’s end, here are some questions with everything you need to know about the best, most consequential, and important games of the Orange’s 2022-2023 campaign:
Most impressive win?
We aren’t lacking in the “potential answers” department over what should be considered Syracuse’s best win of the season. The home dub versus Miami looks astronomically better now given the Hurricanes’ Elite Eight run this postseason. Ditto for the road win against Pittsburgh given a) Syracuse finished 5-9 on the road this season and b) the Orange had not beaten an ACC team by more than 18 points heading into that game. With that said, Syracuse’s upset 75-67 win against then-#14 North Carolina propelled the Orange into legitimate discussion for a tournament bid. It’s hard to beat that mark.
Most disappointing loss?
As The Athletic noted before the 2023 ACC Tournament, Syracuse began this season on an up and down note. Given that the Orange were projected to finish 10th in the ACC during the preseason, it’s hard to fault them for close losses to ranked ACC opponents like Duke, Florida State, and Notre Dame. Ditto for the 83-58 loss versus NC State, even as heartbreaking as it was, the Wolfpack were still an amazing program this year.
However, we can fault them for an early-season 82-69 loss to Penn State, where Syracuse blew a 21-point lead on the road. A close honorable mention was the 69-57 dud versus Georgia Tech, who finished with a 4-14 record against the ACC and 13-17 overall.
In a year where every win mattered to make the tournament, that was a tough pill to swallow.
Season-defining game of the season?
It’s hard to shy away from picking the Miami game here, where the Orange defeated the Hurricanes by nine points and leaped into the final spot in this year’s tournament heading into their regular season finale versus Pittsburgh. Morale was higher than ever for the Orange’s tournament chances on Senior Day at the JMA Wireless Dome.
Best single-game performance by the Orange?
I’ll give a shout-out to Teisha Hyman’s efficient 27-point performance in an 86-77 road loss to Louisville. Ditto for a handful of memorable games from Georgia Woolley and Dariauna Lewis. But, it’s hard to not pick Dyaisha Fair’s monster performance in an 90-72 road win versus Virginia, where she finished with 36 points on 11/16 shooting, 8/11 shooting from three, and 6/6 on free throws in addition to five rebounds, five assists, and three steals. Easily the most statistically impressive individual mark by any member of the Orange this past year.
Marquee game of the year?
Wins against North Carolina and Miami deserve the honors if you including wins only, but I’m fine with picking a loss and that’s why I’m taking the Orange’s close road defeat to Columbia University in the WNIT Round of 16. Just an overall great re-watch from start to finish, and it was impressive nonetheless that Syracuse was nearly one of the last eight teams in this year’s WNIT coming off barely missing a bid for the tournament.
Best trend you hope could stay for next season?
The Orange finished 15-3 at home this season, compared to just 5-10 in road and neutral games. 15 games is a lot, and I’d expect that to fall a bit next season by a win or two, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that especially against ranked opponents, the Orange’s home-court advantage can be better utilized in those contests.
How did my initial preseason prediction compare to how the season actually played out?
Heading into the season, I projected the Orange to finish at least with a .500 record while staying conservative on an over-performance. In reality, Syracuse finished well above my expectations, which really speaks to Legette-Jack’s ability to maximize a roster of mainly transfer players. Heading into next season, the 2022-2023 campaign provided all the optimism Orange fans could have hoped for.
Now it’s your turn: what were takeaways from this past season for the Orange? Leave your thoughts down below in the comment section.