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Alaysia Styles would’ve been in on a layup in transition, but the referee blew the play dead. Virginia had just been called for a shot-clock violation with 2:30 remaining in the third quarter, and despite Syracuse recovering the ball, the play was whistled dead entirely. The bucket would’ve increased SU’s lead to 17 points and stopped a near three-minute scoring drought.
Acting head coach Vonn Read stared blankly at the court in confusion but then regained composure, yelling the phrase “5-out” onto the court and Syracuse set up in its usual offensive outlook, occupying all areas of the arc’s perimeter.
On the ensuing possession, Syracuse worked the ball back out to Styles who missed a 3 at the top of the key. Kaydan Lawson secured the rebound, sent London Clarkson in transition for a layup and Virginia now pulled within 12. Najé Murray scored a layup on Syracuse’s next possession, but one final UVA basket sent the Orange into the final quarter with a 12-point lead.
That scoring drought was the second of two major ones in Syracuse’s (10-12, 3-9 ACC) 77-70 win over Virginia (3-18, 0-11 ACC). The Orange shot below 40% from the field while the Cavaliers made nearly half their field goals. Still, SU scraped by UVA by going 26-for-31 from the free-throw line and making 3-pointers when it counted.
“The girls have been competing and playing hard,” Read said. “The one thing we wanted to do was get a road win.”
The first scoring drought came midway through the second period as both teams went nearly three minutes without a made field goal. Then, Syracuse’s drought extended almost another two minutes.
Syracuse began driving inside more often in the second quarter after shooting 4-for-10 from beyond the arc in the opening frame. Styles and Alaina Rice made the Orange’s first two field goals, respectively, on back-to-back layups within the first 90 seconds of the quarter. Then Teisha Hyman and Christianna Carr each made their respective two free-throw attempts nearly two minutes later, and at that point, SU had only missed one field goal — a missed 3 from Christianna.
But that’s when the drought began. Syracuse was up 13, which was enough of a cushion to keep it ahead as it missed its next nine shots. SU was fortunate that Virginia made just three field goals during that span, where it went on a 7-0 run led by 6-foot-2 Clarkson challenging the Orange’s defense inside.
Clarkson spun around Rice and easily banked in a layup, and as Rice fouled her in the process, she secured the and-1. On the ensuing possession, the Orange defense left too wide-open of a gap for Clarkson to hit another layup.
At that point Syracuse’s lead shrunk to just six. It wasn’t until Chrislyn Carr missed a 3-pointer in the final minute of the quarter that the Orange would break its scoreless streak. Chrislyn’s shot went off the rim and Rice picked it up and scored the second-chance jumper as she was fouled, making her shot from the line to complete the three-point play.
Despite multiple scoreless runs, Syracuse often struggled from deep. It missed all five of its 3-point attempts in the second quarter, a quarter where it only made three shots total. In the first quarter, the Orange made four 3s, with three of them coming from Murray who finished the first 10 minutes with 13 points, eventually scoring a season-high 24 points.
Murray scored the game’s first points off a 3 from the left wing, making up for Syracuse’s first two missed shots from deep. The Orange didn’t attempt a shot from inside until just before the four minute mark. They led 9-5 at that point, with two 3s coming from Murray, including a buzzer-beater to secure a 10-point lead.
Beyond the opening quarter, Syracuse made only five 3s, and shot just under 39% from the field in the second half. Still the shots fell when the Orange needed them the most, keeping the Orange from trailing all game.
After UVA’s Amandine Toi began the fourth quarter with back-to-back 3s, the Cavaliers pulled within eight points. Still, Syracuse had missed four consecutive 3-point attempts, but it was able to score crucial free-throw attempts to prevent its lead from slipping considerably.
But Chrislyn hit a step-back mid-range jumper from the right side of the paint and scored a rare field goal inside the paint for the Orange. Syracuse was spared by Virginia’s 11 personal fouls in the final quarter, with SU making all 16 of its shots from the line.
To Read, the fact that Syracuse has won two of its last four and never trailed against Virginia is the positive turning point his team needs after securing its first road win of the season.
“We led from the start and that’s something we hadn’t been doing,” Read said. We had been trailing and playing catch up. We put an emphasis on that and we wanted to get off to a good start, and we did that.”
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