In yet another second half run, the #22 Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (17-2, 7-1) went on an incredible 28-14 scoring run in the fourth quarter to beat the #15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (14-4, 5-3) for the first time in South Bend.
Syracuse led as much as nine points before Notre Dame stormed back, but the Orange’s defense late powered the team to its first ever season sweep against the Fighting Irish in the 79-65 road victory and its third win against an AP top 25 team.
Dyaisha Fair shined yet again with a team-high 25 points, while Alaina Rice caught fire with 19 points on 7/12 shooting. The Orange shot 44% from the field but held Notre Dame to 33% shooting and had a plus-16 advantage on the glass.
Both teams started off slow on offense with Syracuse and Notre Dame combining for 3/13 on field goals through the beginning of the first quarter. Woolley scored the Orange’s first basket off an offensive rebound at the 8:15 marker in the quarter. After Notre Dame scored on back-to-back possessions, Syracuse’s effort on the offensive glass generated some extra looks for Woolley and Fair who combined to score the Orange’s first eight points.
After Syracuse went up 8-4, Notre Dame took advantage of eight first quarter turnovers by the Orange and used a 7-0 scoring run to take a three point lead. Fair drilled a three-pointer off an offensive rebound from Saniaa Wilson to put Syracuse back ahead, and the Fair-Woolley combo combined for 14 of Syracuse’s 16 points in the first quarter as the Orange went up 16-15.
Both teams continued to go back and fourth throughout most of the second quarter as Syracuse and Notre Dame traded one basket leads. Wilson, Alaina Rice and Alyssa Latham were each able to score which allowed the Orange to go up 24-23 at the final media timeout of the first half.
Rice really started to get going during the second quarter and went on a personal 7-0 run to help extend Syracuse’s lead by as much as seven points (36-29), while Notre Dame went over three minutes without a field goal during one stretch. A three-pointer from Rice put Syracuse up 29-26 with just over three minutes left in the quarter, and the Orange maintained their lead and went up 38-32 entering halftime.
The combination of Fair (12 points), Rice (11 points) and Woolley (9 points) combined for 32 of the Orange’s 38 points in the first half. Hidalgo and Citron both scored in double-figures, but the Fighting Irish were held to 38% shooting in the first half compared to 47% for Syracuse.
Fair kicked off the second half with another made three-pointer to put Syracuse up by nine points (41-32), but the Orange proceeded to miss six straight shots. Notre Dame proceeded to go on 12-2 scoring run to re-take the lead, but Fair finally responded to put Syracuse back ahead by one point.
Suddenly, both offenses went completely cold for most of the third quarter. The Orange and Fighting Irish each went around four minutes without a field goal, but a layup from Sophie Burrows allowed Syracuse to take a 51-49 lead and cut the scoring drought temporarily. Syracuse entered the fourth quarter tied at 51-51.
And then, the Orange came out on fire and then some. Four different players (Fair, Wilson, Wood and Burrows) all scored in a period in which Syracuse began the fourth quarter on a 14-5 scoring run capped off with an and-one layup from Burrows which put the Orange back up by nine points (65-54).
When it mattered most, the Orange’s defense made key stop after key stop down the stretch and pushed their lead up to 13 points with under three minutes to go.
And there you have it: Syracuse completes a season sweep against Notre Dame for the very first time.