Somehow and someway, the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (14-2, 4-1) overcame a 19-point deficit and rallied behind the heroics of Dyaisha Fair to defeat the Clemson Tigers (8-9, 1-4) 83-82 at the JMA Wireless Dome, capping off a thrilling Sunday afternoon game that came all the way down to the last possession.
After not scoring more than 19 points in a quarter all game, Syracuse outscored Clemson 30-18 to complete the double-digit comeback en route to one of the most impressive wins in the Felisha Legette-Jack era.
Fair, who scored just two points in the first half, exploded for 19 second-half points to finish with 21 points as she notably reached 3,000 career points — becoming the 16th NCAA Division I women’s player to do so. Fair overcame a tough 6/21 shooting performance to help guide Syracuse past Clemson and move the Orange to 10-0 at home this season.
Alaina Rice (16 points), Georgia Woolley (14 points) and Alyssa Latham (14 points) also scored in double-figures for the Orange, with the trio shouldering much of the offensive load in the first half. Amari Robinson scored a game-high 35 points for Clemson, but after a strong start, Clemson cooled off and allowed the Orange to hang around for just long enough.
Clemson got off to an impressive start with five straight makes as Ruby Whitehorn scored eight of the Tigers’ first 12 points. Clemson jumped out to as much as a 13-point lead (16-3), but Syracuse was able to climb out of the early hole by the first media timeout. Latham hit a three from the top of the key to put the Orange on the board, while a baseline mid-range jumper from Woolley sparked a 6-0 scoring run to get the deficit back into single-digits.
The Orange’s defense proved to be the main concern early, especially as the Tigers shot 11/17 (65%) from the field and gave up a decent amount of easy looks around the rim. Syracuse wasn’t completely out of it yet, as back-to-back baskets from Saniaa Wilson and Woolley cut the deficit down again to 29-19 heading into the second quarter.
The second quarter was certainly more of a roller coaster — Syracuse cut Clemson’s lead down to as low as six points but trailed again by as much as 15 points (42-27). A hook shot from Woolley plus a layup off a steal by Woolley sparked the initial run, but the Tigers offense continue to get good looks.
In the end, the Orange managed to hang on and entered halftime down 45-34. Latham led the Orange with 12 points while Woolley and Rice had eight points each in the first half. The trio combined for 28 of Syracuse’s 34 points in the first half. Harris (9 points and 6 assists) led the way for Clemson along with some scoring help from Robinson (12 points) and Whitehorn (10 points).
Throughout most of the game, Syracuse had its flashes but simply did not generate enough plays in sequence to regain any momentum. A cold streak that lasted for more than three minutes to kickoff the second half allowed the Tigers to extend its lead and put more pressure on every possession for Syracuse.
After Syracuse went down as much as 16 points again, Alaina Rice scored a three then drove for a layup on the next possession to get a small spark going. Clemson followed that up with another scoring run to go up 57-41 with under 15 minutes remaining.
The Orange were still hanging around and despite only shooting 3/11 in the entire third quarter, Syracuse and Clemson each scored 19 points as the Tigers retained an 11-point lead heading into the fourth. Fair knocked down a corner three-pointer on the Orange’s last third quarter possession for what was just her second made basket up to this point.
Syracuse certainly made things interesting in the fourth, especially as the three-ball started to go in. Rice drilled a three along the wing to cut the Orange’s deficit down to nine points with around six minutes to go.
And then, Fair took the game into her own hands.
Fair scored 11 straight points for Syracuse, and after trailing as much as 13 points (66-53) in the fourth quarter, Syracuse took its first lead all game with just minutes to go. Kyra Wood made two and-one baskets to push the Orange out in front and Kennedi Perkins hit an incredible running layup, but Robinson hit a clutch three with around 35 seconds left to go.
Latham scored Syracuse’s final basket off a pass from Fair, completing what was an insane but historic day for Fair and the women’s basketball team. Clemson had one last chance to put up a shot with seven seconds to go, but one last defensive stop sealed the deal for the Orange.
Syracuse has won three-straight since its double-digit loss to UNC, but the road is about to get much tougher from here. Up next for the Orange is another home game versus the #21 Florida State Seminoles.