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Syracuse started as it has in every game thus far, hitting an early 3-pointer from deep through its five-out offense. But the Orange folded defensively against No. 18 Ohio State, allowing the Buckeyes to go on an 11-0 run in the first quarter.
For the rest of the first half, Syracuse played catch-up before regaining the lead at the end of the second quarter. The night turned into a back-and-forth between both squads before the Orange hopped out to a small lead through the offensive creativity of Chrislyn Carr, Najé Murray and Teisha Hyman.
Hyman finished with a career-high 30 points, while Chrislyn and Murray recorded 23 and 21, respectively. The Orange also finished with nine 3-pointers in their first win over a Power-Five opponent, after recording 10 and nine made 3s in their last two games. Four players finished with double-digits in points for SU.
Here are some observations from Syracuse’s 97-91 win over Ohio State:
Teisha Hyman in isolation
With not a lot of space to work with offensively, Syracuse’s players had to make moves themselves, instead of stringing together a variety of passes to get open looks from deep. Hyman was the most successful for the Orange, crossing over the ball between her legs before driving into the lanes on multiple occasions.
After a 3-point play from the right wing, Hyman went to the left and drove while embracing contact again, connecting and sinking her free throw from the line. Syracuse took just its second lead of the game, going up 29-27. Following another Buckeyes’ score, Hyman went to the left corner, waiting for the defense to get to her before driving inside for a baseline score. She finished with 18 at the half.
In the second half, Hyman became crucial in breaking Ohio State’s press, at one point catching the ball high and fighting between two defenders to kick-start the Orange’s offense. She found Murray, who then found Christianna Carr for a 3-point score.
On the ensuing possession, Hyman set up at the same spot as Christianna did, nailing a 3-pointer to give the Orange a 59-57 lead. She went back to the location again on the next possession, swishing another 3 that put Syracuse’s bench on their feet and forced Ohio State to call a timeout.
With less than three minutes left in the fourth quarter, Hyman let the shot clock wind down as she stood out at the right wing. Seeing the shot clock near its final seconds, Hyman finally drove in before crossing over for a jumper inside. The ball went through the net, and the Orange’s bench erupted again — the final dagger SU needed against the Buckeyes.
Alaysia Styles asserts her presence
Against Colgate, acting head coach Vonn Read said Styles asked him to come out at certain points late in the game, but as Syracuse’s tallest player, and only reliable option at center after Eboni Walker’s injury, Read kept Styles on the court. The Orange were even more outmatched with size against the Buckeyes, and Styles was required to continue her increased minutes.
Still, Styles was able to use her speed to make up for her height, forcing a steal early in the first quarter before scoring in transition at the end of the period. In the second quarter, she worked in front of the ball again and batted the ball into the stands. Then, she positioned herself like a regular post player, muscling a layup in between two smaller defenders. She also had three offensive rebounds in the first half.
But Styles, with her aggressive play inside, was called for four personal fouls, forcing her to go out of the game midway through the third quarter. She went on the bike off the court at the start of the fourth quarter, staying warm for when she eventually went back in with eight minutes left in the game.
Styles was able to draw a foul later in the fourth quarter, hitting two free throws to give the Orange a 10-point lead. She went back to the line for two more near the end of the game before catching the ball from Hyman for her final points. Styles finished with 10 on the night.
Syracuse headed into Wednesday night’s matchup averaging 15.9 turnovers per game, with the Buckeyes having forced an average of 22 turnovers so far this season.
At the start of the first quarter, the Buckeyes played hard, on-ball defense early — also using multiple double teams — to confuse the Orange. Murray tried to drive into the lane twice in order to get a kick-out pass to one of the wing players, but a defender poked the ball out of her hands. Then, Syracuse tried to make two easy passes that resulted in turnovers as two Buckeye defenders jumped out early right when the pass was made.
Following the fourth turnover, which ended in Jacy Sheldon scoring on the fast break off a steal, Read called a timeout to address the issues. The Orange forced a turnover themselves on the Buckeyes’ next possession, through a steal from Styles. She found Murray in the corner for a 3, putting the Orange within three of the Buckeyes lead.
Still, the Orange were able to force turnovers with three steals in the opening half — the turnover battle was tied at 6-6.
Murray becomes Hyman’s sidekick
While Hyman went into halftime with 18 points, Murray wasn’t far behind with 12 points, the second-most points on the Orange. In the first half, when Hyman didn’t find any space to work inside the paint, she found a cutting Murray for an easy layup.
At the end of the second quarter, Murray isolated herself to score on another layup before finding success from deep — she’s been Syracuse’s early option from deep in every game. In the second half, she drove hard inside again, this time working from left to right to score.
She sat in the corner while Hyman had the ball later in the period, before cutting inside to score and give SU a 48-44 lead. Murray waited patiently as Hyman had the ball again in the third quarter, this time catching the pass along the left wing for another make from deep.
In the fourth quarter, Murray contributed through her hustle plays, fighting for rebounds despite being one of the shortest players on the Orange at 5-foot-6. She secured a rebound going out of bounds, finding Chrislyn as she fell backward. Chrislyn hit a runner to give the Orange a 71-61 lead.
Full-court press vs. full-court press
The Orange have used the full-court press throughout the season, a system Read said has been a part of Syracuse’s “identity.” But Ohio State used the system before Syracuse did, finding success in creating turnovers for quick baskets.
Toward the end of the first quarter, Styles’ inbound pass to Chrislyn was blocked by the two defenders standing near the basket. The Buckeyes scored quickly, but Styles ran down the court in transition, scoring on the opposite end to make up for her mistake.
The Orange started to bring out the full-court press late in the first half, but OSU was able to work past it quickly to start on offense. Halfway through the third quarter, the Buckeyes strung together four passes to beat Syracuse’s press, ending with a tough layup from Kateri Poole.
Poole forced a steal and scored on a layup in the press later in the third quarter, and Ohio State made Syracuse commit a 10-second violation by stalling its offense in SU’s own half.
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