Sports, Winter, Basketball, Women's Basketball

Eagles’ Late Push Not Enough To Overcome Syracuse’s First-Half Shooting

The day after freezing temperatures overwhelmed the Northeast, Syracuse women’s basketball’s first-half 3-point shooting against Boston College warmed up JMA Wireless Dome.

The Eagles (14–12, 4–9 Atlantic Coast) failed to overcome Syracuse’s 46.2 percent first-half 3-point shooting and 18 made free throws, and fell to the Orange (15–9, 6–7) 79–72.

Syracuse’s success from deep was in full effect from tipoff. The Orange opened the game on an 11–2 run, scoring nine of its first 11 points on 3-pointers, resulting in BC head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee calling a timeout.

“We just talked about playing harder, playing a little bit more focused, and playing inside out,” Bernabei-McNamee said.

Her message worked, as BC immediately went on a 13–0 run to give itself a 15–11 lead with less than four minutes remaining in the first quarter.

But the Orange responded with an 11–0 run of its own to take a 24–17 lead entering the second quarter, led by four Dyaisha Fair points. Fair finished the game with 24 points, leading all scorers.

Syracuse’s Georgia Woolley heated up in the second quarter and finished the first half with 18 points on 4-of-6 shooting. But Maria Gakdeng managed to keep the Eagles afloat, using her 6-foot-3 frame to position herself for open layups. Gakdeng finished the first half with 12 points on 6-of-7 shooting. 

“We wanted to definitely play inside out, and there’s really, they don’t really have a player that can guard her.” Bernabei-McNamee said. “Definitely not one on one. And so, just trying to pick apart that zone a little bit and get the ball inside to her was one of our keys.”

But the Orange’s 6-of-13 first-half shooting from behind the arc propelled it to a 45–30 lead at halftime. Bernabei-McNamee said she thought BC could have executed better on defense.

“We got caught on just like really, in my opinion, not hustling to make those shots tough, and I thought we did a lot better job of that in the second half, but first half, we were a little lackadaisical,” Bernabei-McNamee said.

The Eagles failed to close the gap to start the third quarter, with Syracuse’s Dariauna Lewis converting on a layup to extend the Orange’s lead to 22 at the 7:21 mark.

But Gakdeng, who finished the game with a season-high 20 points, notched a layup to pull BC within eight at the 1:30 mark in the third quarter, capping off an 11–0 BC run that featured four BC fast-break points. BC recorded 24 total fast-break points all game.

“We definitely wanted to push in transition,” Bernabei-McNamee said. “I feel that’s one of the things that we could have some easy scores in transition when they’re trying to set up in their zone, is to push on them.”

The Orange maintained its lead throughout the fourth quarter, with the Eagles never coming closer than within eight points until there was less than 30 seconds left in the matchup. Taina Mair, who posted her fifth double-double of the season by notching 16 points and 10 assists, cut Syracuse’s lead to just 77–72 with 19 seconds left, but the effort was too little too late.

“When we ran hard, when we ran and did what we were supposed to, I thought we had good opportunities,” Bernabei-McNamee said. 

February 5, 2023