Syracuse Women’s Basketball Blasts Pitt 89-71 After Shaky Start
By Jesse Cook | @JesseCookTV
A banner ending without stable beginnings led to a wide 89-71 home victory for the Syracuse Women’s Basketball Team over Pittsburgh Thursday evening.
The Orange dominated the first, third, and fourth quarters, but a bizarre emptiness handed the second quarter to the Panthers, who embarked on a 19-2 run to close out the first half on top 39-33.
Luckily for the Cuse, this Pitt lead rapidly vanished in the third quarter.
Syracuse head coach Felisha Legette-Jack joked that her team simply hit the off button at the end of the first half. She said, “They say ‘What a difference a day makes’ — what a difference a half makes… We went to a zone, and they made shots, and we got stubborn, and we really stayed too long in that, and that’s on us, but we didn’t punch.”
Pitt certainly hit its shots, sinking nearly 57.9% from the field in the second quarter. The only stretch where either team finished with a higher mark from the floor was S.U.’s third quarter, in which the squad nailed 62.5% of its shots.
That trend illustrates the story of the game: S.U. dominated every facet of the game except for a lonesome 10 minutes.
The Panthers scored 26 points in the second quarter against the 14 mounted by the Orange. Syracuse then put up 24 points in the third quarter to overshadow Pittsburgh’s 12. The Cuse spent the entire 10 minutes of the third quarter making up for what had happened in the prior period.
S.U. forward Kyra Wood said that she felt like Pitt’s 19-2 run to cap the second quarter felt like an enigma to the Cuse. The sophomore said, “Coach got on us hard about our energy and — kind of — finished that second half. We know that that wasn’t us, and that’s not how we practice, not what we preach, and so we went out there and played our basketball instead of playing to their level or their basketball style of play.”
Wood scored nine points in the win, her season-high and the third-highest mark of her career.
Her teammate, guard Georgia Woolley, tied her season-high of 23 points, a total she recorded in the previous game on Sunday, Jan. 1, as well. The Australia native earned “The Hard Hat” honor for the game (the team hands out a decorated orange hard hat to the player deemed to have worked the hardest).
Woolley said earning the hard hat felt like the fitting way to end the day. She said, “That’s great! The hard hat is like what you want to do, right? You just want to go out there and do all the little things. Sometimes things go unnoticed that’s gonna bring the team together, so it feels good!”
“It’s cute, too,” she added.
As for the architect of the comeback, guard Dyaisha Fair, she exemplified the turning point of the battle. The Buffalo transfer scored just two points in the first half, but she rebounded by dropping an additional 22 in the second half, elevating her total to a game-leading 24 points. The senior has now led the Orange in scoring in 10 separate games, topping the entire contest on both sides in nine.
Fair received high praise after the game. S.U. forward Dariauna Lewis said, “If she on, she on. You just gotta talk to her. Sometimes the person that got the most energy on the offensive end… they need other people to pour into them, too. She’s been pouring into us for a long time.”
The Orange will try to pour in more over the weekend as a Sunday matinee approaches on the road. Syracuse matches up with Clemson at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 8. A massive 93-62 road loss at Florida State snapped a three-game winning streak, so the Tigers enter the matchup on Sunday with an A.C.C. record of 2-2 and a total record of 11-5, just behind the Orange’s mark of 3-1 in conference play and 11-4 total.