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The last time Syracuse played an Atlantic Coast Conference team that also sat below .500 on the road, it won. When the Orange played Wake Forest on Thursday, they found themselves in a 20-point hole by the third quarter. The loss flips them down to the No. 12 seed in the ACC with just one game left in the regular season.
Wake Forest finished with four players in double-digits, an uncharacteristic mark that the Demon Deacons typically haven’t seen. Syracuse did storm back at the beginning of the fourth quarter to cut the lead, but the late spurt of momentum waned in the final minutes and Wake Forest re-established its grasp on the game.
Here are observations from Syracuse’s (11-16, 4-13 ACC) loss to Wake Forest (14-14, 4-13).
Points in the paint persist
Syracuse continued to allow a ton of points in the paint against NC State and Virginia Tech, a persisting trend that has hurt the Orange throughout the season. Acting head coach Vonn Read said that SU keeps getting bitten underneath the basket on defense. That was 10 games ago, and Syracuse has managed just three wins since. Early in the first quarter, Niyah Becker weaved around her defender, allowing the paint to open wide up. She took two steps and quickly buried a layup to extend Wake Forest’s lead.
At the end of the first half, 24 of Wake Forest’s 39 points came from inside the paint. Whether it was via putbacks from Becker or Christina Morra simply driving down the lane, the Orange continued to allow too much open space inside the paint. Alaysia Styles and Christianna Carr routinely stood tall once the Demon Deacons made their way down low, but off-balance shots still went in from players like Elise Williams.
Stealing the ball
Najé Murray said midway through Syracuse’s six-game winning streak that the Orange want to have at least 20 forced turnovers a night. It has trended away from that aggressive play as the season — and individual games — have gone on. But early Thursday night against the Demon Deacons, Murray exploited lazy, long passes at the top of the key in order to turn over Wake Forest. The first time she did so in the first quarter, Murray tracked a pass intended for Jewel Spear. She grabbed it before Spear could get two hands on the ball, and then Murray bolted down the court, finishing the sequence with a wide open layup.
Even down low during the second quarter, Styles was able to gain position on her defender in the paint and swat away a pass. Early in the fourth quarter, Hyman intercepted another pass at the top of the key and lofted a cross-court pass to Murray, who finished with a wide open layup to cut the lead to fewer than 20 points.
Teisha Hyman continues to take over
Double-digit performances from Hyman have become commonplace for the Orange to witness. She’s consistently been able to take control of games and score from all three levels on the court. Thursday was no different, and by the end of the first half, she’d scored 15 points and gone 2-of-3 from deep.
After Wake Forest went up by 12 points in the second quarter, Hyman steadied herself to begin the Orange’s next possession on the left side of the 3-point line. Then she started to dribble, faking to her right before euro-stepping left around her defender. The move set the Demon Deacon off kilter and allowed Hyman to take another large step for a wide open layup.
Despite the game quickly slipping out of Syracuse’s hands during the third quarter, Hyman kept applying pressure. She did turn the ball over five times, but had 26 points by the end of the night. With five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Hyman stutter-stepped and bolted down the paint. She was met with contact, but leaned to her left and managed to bury a layup to cut Wake Forest’s lead to 11.
No success from 3
The Orange have been able to shoot the lights out from deep. It’s what opposing coaches have said SU is good at and what multiple players noted as SU’s strong suit prior to the season. Christianna and Teisha Hyman did swish through two 3-pointers in the first quarter, but Syracuse had plenty of its possessions ended by contested or long shots that harmlessly clanked off the rim.
Syracuse continued to heave up shots and continued to watch as they sparingly went in. Not one of the Orange’s three 3-pointers went in, and they entered the fourth quarter shooting just 3-of-13 from deep.
Niyah Becker, Christina Morra dominate
Becker, a transfer in her first year with the Demon Deacons, came off the bench and immediately made an impact against the Orange. She entered the game with a season-high scoring output of 13 points. By the end of the first half, she’d already matched that mark. She ended the second quarter by corralling a hard missed 3-pointer from Spear right in front of the basket, easily putting the shot back in over Styles as the buzzer went off.
Spear is used to being the only Wake Forest player to lead the team scoring, but she didn’t make a shot until midway through the second quarter. Still, the Demon Deacons — helped along by loads of production off the bench from Becker — ensured the Orange never held a lead after the first quarter. Morra had already notched a double-double by the halfway point of the third quarter, and continued to pile on the shots and rebounds through the final 15 minutes. She finished the night with a career-high 21 points.
The post Observations from SU vs. Wake Forest: Points allowed inside, Hyman explodes again appeared first on The Daily Orange.