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Syracuse is coming off back-to-back wins, beating a ranked opponent for the first time this year against Ohio State and then also scoring the most points in program history against Central Connecticut State. Teisha Hyman almost recorded a quadruple-double in the Orange’s win over CCSU, recording the first triple-double with steals, assists and points in Syracuse history.
To end a slate of eight straight nonconference games, SU will face Cornell on Wednesday night, looking to win its eighth consecutive matchup against the Big Red. Cornell, an Ivy League school, is 4-25 all-time against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents.
Here’s what you need to know about the Big Red before Syracuse (5-4, 0-1 ACC) takes on Cornell (4-5):
Syracuse leads 16-4.
Last time they played
The Orange have dominated in most matchups — winning the last seven — against Cornell, and that was true seven years ago in a 76-59 SU victory on Dec. 28, 2014. The Big Red hopped out to a 10-point lead at one point in the first half, but Syracuse was able to rebound in the second half with 44 points. The Orange held the Big Red to 25 in the last 20 minutes.
Alexis Peterson led Syracuse in scoring that night, finishing with 18 points and shooting 6-for-13 on field goal attempts. Four other players on the Orange recorded double-digit points, helping them to their ninth win of the year. SU later fell to South Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to end its season.
The Big Red report
Cornell is currently on a two-game losing streak, dropping a close matchup against Niagara after losing by nine to University of Massachusetts Lowell. The slow start can in part be attributed to the Ivy League canceling all athletic play last year, leaving teams to have to use this year to transition back into game competition.
The Big Red have particularly struggled from deep this season, currently sitting 299th out of 356th teams nationally in 3-point percentage according to Her Hoop Stats. Cornell’s worst performance from beyond the arc came against Binghamton, where it missed on all eight attempts from deep. The Big Red continued to shoot from deep in the ensuing game against Fairleigh Dickinson, but they finished 2-for-16.
How Syracuse beats Cornell
Syracuse has improved its ability from deep, currently sitting at a 34.3% success rate on the season. But as the Orange have bettered their shots from beyond the arc by “making the extra pass,” Cornell has been on the decline with a 24.8% 3-point percentage this season. SU should allow the Big Red to shoot from deep, which would give it enough time to fight for boards and start its transition offense.
But the Orange might struggle rebounding against Cornell, which has a positive rebounding margin of 3.3 this season — Syracuse sits at a -3.6 rebounding margin. Surprisingly, the Big Red’s best rebounder this year has been guard Olivia Snyder, who has recorded 77 boards. Their best performance came against Binghamton, where they notched 49 rebounds.
SU will need to win the rebounding battle in order to have a chance at an easy win over Cornell.
Player to watch: Theresa Grace Mbanefo, forward, No. 15
Mbanefo is the Big Red’s point leader this season, averaging 12.2 points per game. Though she’s a senior, Mbanefo made her first career start for Cornell last season against Brown and averaged 5.5 points per game. She saw the most time out of any freshman on the Big Red in the 2018-19 season and led the team in blocks — a skill she might be able to use against Syracuse’s lack of size.
This year, Mbanefo’s best performance came against Binghamton, where she finished with a double-double consisting of 27 points and 13 rebounds. But fellow ACC team Wake Forest was able to stop Mbanefo, holding her to seven points and forcing her into four turnovers.
Stat to know: 18.3 turnovers per game
The Big Red are 256th in the country with an average of 18.3 turnovers per game. While Cornell has been able to minimize turnovers against easier opponents, the Demon Deacons forced 25 in their win over the Big Red, and against Niagara, Cornell had 33 turnovers.
This is something that Syracuse can pounce on early, using its full-court press, which has been able to force turnovers against ranked teams like Ohio State. The aggressive nature of Hyman, Chrislyn Carr and Najé Murray at the top of the press has forced 21.0 turnovers per game, good for 28th nationally. The Orange will need to continue this success against Cornell to jump out to an early lead in order to make sure the Big Red can’t beat them from deep.
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