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Momentum Can Go One Of Two Ways For Syracuse Women’s Basketball Against North Carolina

Dyaisha Fair (white #2) dribbles and stares down her defender in the JMA Wireless Dome.
Dyaisha Fair dribbles and stares down her defender in the JMA Wireless Dome.

Syracuse women's basketball heads down a difficult stretch for the final five games of the regular season. But, as Luke Schwartz details, with a win on its back and momentum on its side, a win against No. 14 North Carolina could propel the team into a memorable finish.

It is not about how you start; it is about how you finish.

Syracuse women's basketball is in a groove right now. A short and brief groove that could carry it into a notable ACC tournament or one fans will want to forget quickly.

The Orange are hot off an impressive win against Boston College where Syracuse took a season sweep of the Eagles. Georgia Woolley had 18 points in the first half and finished with 20 in the game. Dyaisha Fair recorded her 24th straight game scoring in double digits with 24 points and reached an incredible feat of surpassing 2,500 career points. Dariauna Lewis, also known as, “Stretch” neared a double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. The squad shot 40% as a whole, racked up 34 points in the paint and scored 18 off turnovers.

Syracuse won just its second game over the last seven contests. The road to March gets even more difficult for the final five games of the regular season, and it starts with hosting number 14th ranked North Carolina on Thursday evening.

Momentum is the key for the Orange. North Carolina is recovering from a tough loss on the road to Louisville, losing 62-55. A game where the Tar Heels shot an astonishingly low from three-point range at a lowly number of just 8.1 percent. Going 1-12 from downtown. But let us not forget just who we are talking about.

UNC is a top-15 team in the country with a stout record of 17-6 overall, 8-4 in the ACC. the Tar Heels have beaten ranked teams like Notre Dame, Duke and NC State. A squad that averages 72.0 points per game and averages 9.3 blocks per game to be bullies down on the blocks. From size to speed, the light blue and white have weapons spread throughout their entire roster.

Look out for number 25, Deja Kelly. The junior from San Antonio, Texas, is a certified bucket-getter. She averages a team-high 15.9 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game. Standing at just 5’8”, her low-to-the-ground mobility allows her to slip through defenses like butter, and she has a strong physical side that can finish through contact. She has great spatial awareness and a killer mentality that leads to her having the ball in her hands when the moment is the biggest.

Make your way down the leaderboards on this team, and two ladies stick out, averaging in the 13-point range. Number three Kennedy Todd-Williams and number one Alyssa Ustby. Todd- Williams averages13.9 points per game and 5.3 rebounds per game and she has hocked up a team-high 117 three-pointers and shoots 32.5 percent from beyond the arc. Ustby is like Dariauna Lewis, she is nearing a double-double average and leads the team with 28 blocks. 6 '1 " with great timing and jumping ability is why she can be so dominant down low.

Seven players on this roster average over five points per contest, and the Tar Heels play unselfish and fast. This is one of the best teams Syracuse has faced all year, and it comes at a pivotal time.

Syracuse is 6-7 in the ACC and 15-9 overall. The Orange currently sit at ninth place in the ACC, which is a good thing. The top nine teams in the conference receive a first-round bye in the ACC tournament. Unfortunately for Syracuse, the schedule does not lighten as the regular season finishes.

The Orange will travel to ranked Notre Dame and Florida State, host Miami and end the year at Pittsburgh..

The momentum is currently the propeller factor in these final few games. If Syracuse can take down North Carolina, not only does it continue to cushion its seat for a first-round bye, but it gives Syracuse the strong mentality to finish the last three of four games on the road with confidence and swagger.

With no guarantee on the timetable of Asia Strong and Teisha Hyman’s return, Syracuse is going to have to rely on star Dyaisha Fair, and unsung heroes like Georgia Woolley, Dariauna Lewis, Alaina Rice and even Kyra Wod are going to need to step up and come ready to compete.

Tip-off is set for 7 PM in the JMA Wireless Dome on Thursday, February 9th.