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Trailing 52-50 in the third quarter, Ohio State brought out its full-court press to stall Syracuse’s offense. But the Buckeyes had trouble putting defenders on the Orange’s best player, Teisha Hyman, who was able to wrestle between two defenders and go airborne to secure the inbound pass.
Hyman kick-started SU’s attack, finding Najé Murray, who then located Christianna Carr at the right wing to break the Buckeyes’ lead. On the ensuing possession, Hyman found Murray on the other side for another 3, then taking her own opportunity to position for a deep strike.
But unlike her teammates, Hyman took her time as no defenders were in front of her before heaving the ball from beyond the arc. She found the bottom of the net, successfully besting the career-high of 23 points that she had set a few weeks earlier against Morgan State. Hyman went back to the same location again on the next possession, swishing another 3 that brought Syracuse’s bench to its feet and forced Ohio State to call a timeout.
“She’s an attacker,” acting head coach Vonn Read said about Hyman’s performance. “Tonight, she put it all together.”
In response to Syracuse having its first complete game of the season, Hyman said a simple “yeah,” referencing the success her teammates had, as Chrislyn Carr and Murray finished with 23 and 21 points, respectively. But Hyman’s career-high 30-point performance was the biggest difference in the Orange’s first win over a ranked opponent, leading them to a 97-91 win over No. 18 Ohio State. She also finished with six assists while shooting 66.7% from 3-point range.
But Hyman’s journey into Syracuse’s starting rotation has been long as she sat out all of last season after tearing her right ACL in Feb. 2020. This was the second ACL tear in her career — the first came on her left knee in high school — sending Hyman on a “mental journey.” Hyman said she lost some of her determination, but Read said he expected a jump from her this year since she’s had to wait on the sidelines for so long.
“The one thing about Teisha is that she’s going to get an opportunity to display her game because she hasn’t had the opportunity to do that,” Read said.
Early against Ohio State, Hyman found an opportunity. The Buckeyes implemented a full-court press, similar to what Syracuse has used defensively, forcing early turnovers from the Orange. With Murray and Chrislyn struggling, Hyman started to take over the ball, returning to the role of the “one” on the court — something she played all throughout high school.
With little space to work offensively, SU’s players had to make moves themselves instead of stringing together a variety of passes to get open looks from deep. But Hyman was able to use her ball skills to get past defenders, crossing the ball between her legs before driving into the lanes on multiple occasions.
After a 3-point play from the right wing, Hyman drove left 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. By halftime, she had 18 points.
“That’s what she likes to do,” Read said about Hyman’s isolation play. “She uses space ,and she’s going to get in there.”
As Hyman started to get into a rhythm, Murray and Chrislyn did as well. Murray finished with 12 points in the first half, while Chrislyn had 22 fourth-quarter points to put away the Buckeyes. But their opportunities started with Hyman’s ability to lure defenders toward her, right before passing to her teammates.
Throughout the opening half, Hyman positioned at different parts of the court as the motion five-out offense started for SU. On one play in the second quarter, Murray sat in the corner with the game tied at 31. Hyman stood at the right wing, waiting for Murray to fake going beyond the arc then cut inside. Hyman delivered a perfect pass over two Ohio State defenders, allowing Murray to go directly at the basket to score. Chrislyn said those types of looks in the lane were open for the Orange the entire night.
“We had a lot of open driving lanes today and even when they weren’t open, we had someone to kick it to,” Chrislyn said.
The strategy worked in the third quarter as Murray waited patiently at the left wing in case there was a chance to shoot from deep. Hyman drove hard into the lane before kicking it out to Murray, who drained her third 3-pointer of the night.
“I have the ability to score, but I love the pass,” Hyman said. “If I can give up my opportunity and make the extra pass, I do.”
In the fourth quarter, Syracuse started to pull away, maintaining a 10-point lead in a back-and-forth between the two squads. 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.
“Teisha, she’s a special player, and this is what she’s capable of,” Read said.
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