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Of Hustle and Heat: Syracuse Women’s Basketball needs its best effort, and a little shooting luck, against #3 Louisville

Syracuse’s Najé Murray spots up for an open triple.
Cuse.com
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Syracuse’s Najé Murray spots up for an open triple.

Syracuse women's basketball is struggling in ACC play, having dropped three straight conference games. To try and break the skid, SU takes on one of the nation's best in Louisville. WAER's Colin Bock details the challenge that the #3 Cardinals present.

It has been a trying year for Syracuse women’s basketball (7-8, 1-4 ACC) who faces a stalwart in the ACC: 3rd-ranked Louisville (13-1, 3-0 ACC).

The Cardinals have found consistency in ways all too familiar to the Orange. Three different Cards post double-figure scoring averages, all headlined by forward Emily Engstler. The former SU captain is averaging a near-double-double with her new team at 10.6 points and 8.4 rebounds. One of the keys, says acting Head Coach Vonn Read, is controlling the glass.

“We’ve got some quick athletic players,” said Read after a December 18 win against UMBC. “It’s a collective effort.”

Last time out, Syracuse out-rebounded Duke 47-35, but fell short in 74-65 fashion. The Orange can rest assured knowing the rebounding battle is likely already won. On average, Syracuse gobbles up twice as many rebounds per game as Louisville.

Syracuse breaks the huddle during a timeout from a game against Duke. The Orange fell 74-65.
Cuse.com
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Syracuse breaks the huddle during a timeout from a game against Duke. The Orange fell 74-65.

“If we crash (the paint), the odds of us getting rebounds is higher,” said Alaysia Styles after Syracuse’s most recent loss to Duke. “The difference between games in the past and today is that we all kind of did the little things, and one of those things is crashing for rebounds.”

Hustle and heart are intangible skills that can provide a team with a deciding edge. But sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good, and the Orange have been dealt tough break after tough break, primarily by the sharp-shooting Gods.

In that same loss to Duke, SU shot a meager 31.9% from the field, and 22.2% (4/18) on three-pointers. But what the consistency boils down to, according to Adam Cohen, a Syracuse women’s basketball beat reporter for CitrusTV, is their lack of consistency.

“Their overall shooting just isn’t very good, and they shot horrifically over the past two games especially,” said Cohen. “They lack consistency.”

The Orange can have their way on the glass with Louisville, but a shooting break may be necessary to uproot one of the nation’s five best squads. Syracuse has failed to shoot over 40% from beyond the three-point line in over a calendar month, having last done so against Clemson in a 13/28 shooting masterclass.

Syracuse’s Teisha Hyman argues a foul call in SU’s 74-65 loss to Duke.
Cuse.com
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Syracuse’s Teisha Hyman argues a foul call in SU’s 74-65 loss to Duke.

Relying on a hot shooting night might not serenade the ears of longtime Syracuse women’s basketball fans; and nor will having to rely on hustle. With so many factors impeding on SU’s season, they’ll need to find solace on the glass— and shoot the lights out— in order to have a chance against the third-ranked team in the country: Louisville.

The Orange and Cardinals tip off at 7 p.m. today. Tune into WAER at 6:30 for pregame coverage.