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Teisha Hyman took the ball up the court with less than four minutes left in the third quarter. Using the isolation moves that have helped her dominate the Atlantic Coast Conference’s best defenders, she crossed over to get separation from FSU’s O’Mariah Gordon.
Hyman pulled up from the right elbow, but she missed. She followed her shot and grabbed the rebound, but she missed again. Alaina Rice got another rebound to restart the Orange’s offense, sending the ball to Chrislyn Carr at the top of the key. But Chrislyn also misfired, allowing Florida State to maintain its nine-point lead.
“The second and third quarter we shot in the 20s percentage wise and that’s where we had the chance to take control of the game,” acting head coach Vonn Read said. “We were chasing them the whole second half.”
In the first half, both Syracuse (11-13, 4-10 Atlantic Coast) and Florida State (13-11, 7-7 ACC) went back-and-forth, leading to 10 lead changes. But the Seminoles rode their momentum from their halftime lead and extended it to as much as 14 in the second half en route to a 73-67 win over SU. The Orange’s stretch of misses in the third quarter was symbolic of their game-wide shooting struggles, as they finished 34.7% from the field and 30.4% from deep.
Syracuse opened the game by setting up Najé Murray from deep. While Murray was held scoreless against Pittsburgh, she turned it around on Tuesday, scoring from the right wing on the Orange’s third possession. But before and after Murray’s score, Florida State recorded 12 points in less than three minutes.
The Seminoles’ success forced Read to call a timeout to change defensive strategy, something that worked as the Orange held FSU scoreless over the next three minutes. But during that span, SU also didn’t score, only breaking its scoreless streak after Alaysia Styles scored on a layup after a steal from Christianna Carr.
“Our offense was really good when we were working in transition,” Read said.
Styles scored from the same spot a few minutes later, bringing Florida State’s lead down to four. Then, Hyman hit a mid range jumper from the free throw line. Chrislyn tied the game at 18, but FSU’s Valencia Myers went 2-for-2 from the free throw line at the end of the first quarter. Still, Christianna made her second 3-pointer of the night to open the second quarter scoring, giving the Orange their first lead since the first minute of the game.
But like the first quarter, both teams struggled throughout the second, with no baskets for almost four minutes after Christianna’s deep shot. Hyman took most of the offensive load during the scoreless streak, trying to work in isolation on almost every possession.
Some of Hyman’s shots were on the mark, only missing after rattling around the rim, while others were forced inside the paint. After her fourth miss, Hyman fouled Sara Bejedi as she scored a layup to regain the Seminoles’ lead.
There were 10 lead changes in the first half but Gordon eventually drove right through the Orange’s 2-3 zone for an easy layup before assisting Myers to give FSU a four-point lead at halftime.
Chrislyn, who finished with a team-high 20 points, hit a 3-pointer from the right corner to open the scoring in the second half, but Murray missed from the right wing on the ensuing possession. Chrislyn then missed from the left corner and Styles missed from the left elbow while Florida State extended its lead to as much as 11 during the third quarter.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the Orange continued to miss shots from deep. Specifically, Hyman’s recent success in isolation turned absent as the majority of her floaters, jumpers and runners hit the back of the rim and popped out. Still, Read said he wasn’t concerned about Hyman’s lack of success against the Seminoles.
“I can live with that. I can live with her aggressiveness,” Read said.
Against Pittsburgh, SU overcame its inconsistent shooting by drawing 18 fouls, which gave it extended looks at the basket. But the Orange converted from the line 10 times against the Seminoles while its defense committed 16 personal fouls.
Still, SU continued to play tough defense, bringing its full court press back in the final minutes of the third quarter. Two minutes into the fourth quarter, Chrislyn stole the ball and found Styles wide-open directly under the basket.
With less than six minutes in the game, Chrislyn snagged the ball with one hand at half court off a high pass from Christianna. She scored, embracing contact from Gordon as she scored off a layup. Then, Chrislyn mimicked her earlier play and stole the ball again instead of dropping back on defense, unable to finish after she was fouled by Gordon.
Murray, who hadn’t scored from deep since the first quarter, hit from beyond the arc off a pass from Styles. And Styles, in the back line of the full court press, stole the ball on FSU’s next possession and scored from the left elbow. Murray scored from deep again, this time at the top of the key, bringing Florida State’s lead back down to seven while forcing the Seminoles to call a timeout.
A few plays later, Murray positioned herself at the right corner, but she misfired. The Orange kept their press and Styles got a steal, but Murray missed again from the right wing.
Rice secured the rebound off Murray’s attempt, but as she fell out of bounds, she swept the ball back in play. It was regained by Florida State, allowing FSU to run the clock out to preserve its lead.
“Shooting is just one of those things,” Murray said about the Orange’s inconsistency. “There’s nothing that we don’t do — we’re in the gym. No one wants to make it more than the girls on the floor.”
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