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Syracuse women’s basketball: Orange defeat #13 Notre Dame 86-81 in New Year’s Eve clash

The Orange peel away the Fighting Irish in a battle within a battle 

NCAA Womens Basketball: ACC/SEC Challenge-Alabama at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange ended 2023 on a high note with an impressive 86-81 win against the #13 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. This win marked an exceptional start to the ACC season for the Orange, setting the stage for an unforgettable showdown that pitted the superstar freshman Hannah Hidalgo against the OG Dyaisha Fair.

The clash of fire and ice unfolded as Hidalgo and Fair unleashed a relentless display of offensive and defensive prowess. Hidalgo, with her fiery presence on the court, showcased her skills with a career-high performance, notching an impressive 32 points, 5 rebounds, 7 steals, and 6 assists. Leading the nation in steals, Hidalgo continued to dominate defensively yesterday afternoon.

In contrast, Fair, the calm and silent assassin, contributed 27 points, 4 rebounds, 6 steals, and three assists to the Orange’s triumph. Each time Fair scored a basket, Hidalgo quickly followed suit. The dynamic duo engaged in a back-and-forth battle throughout the game, showing their lethal impact on both ends of the court. “I respect her and she respects me and it was a good game,” said Fair in a post-game interview.

It was almost like watching a tennis match with how fast-paced the game was. The Orange scored the first seven points of the game. Both teams were playing hard offensively and defensively. The shot clock rarely had a chance to wind down as both teams relentlessly matched each other’s intensity. Once ND found their momentum, both teams were never too far from each other points-wise. Turnovers plagued both sides, with 14 for the Fighting Irish and 15 for the Orange in the first half alone. There wasn’t much of an impact from three-point range in the first half. Both teams relied on getting inside the paint to put points on the board. The Orange did well in terms of rebounds, finishing the first half with 23 rebounds despite playing without their tallest player, Izabel Varejão. Syracuse constantly switched up their tactics which disrupted everything ND has done so far this season.

Headed into the third quarter, it was a slow open for the Orange. Notre Dame overcame their point deficit and Orange tried to get the momentum back. ND had their first lead since the first quarter, leading by 11 points. ND paid the price by constantly leaving Syracuse’s best player Dyaisha Fair wide open for three-point shots, especially in the fourth quarter. “I’m just too fast and the defense doesn’t know what to expect,” said Fair in a post-game interview. In the final minute of the game, ND tried to stop the clock by fouling Fair. But ND picked the wrong player to foul. Fair made all but one of her foul shots, increasing the lead against ND. As the clock ran down, Hidalgo made one final three but it wasn’t enough.

In this game, we expected Fair to lead in scoring but it didn’t matter who led in scoring because this was a team effort to knock off ND and Syracuse rose to the challenge. Alyssa Latham did foul out late in the game but she was the X factor for the Orange. Latham made big moves early in the game finishing with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Another key player was Kyra Wood. She finished with 8 points and 10 rebounds. Wood did a great job shutting down the paint and being a huge asset on defense. You would think she was a volleyball player with the amount of times she slapped the ball out of ND’s possession.

Looking ahead, Coach Legette-Jack will need to address turnover issues and clean the ball up by making the right passes and plays. The Orange will hit the road to face North Carolina on Thursday at 6 p.m. As the new AP 25 poll looms, you can expect to finally see Syracuse on it.

As Dyaisha Fair said post-game…”We’re coming.”