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New Day, New Opportunity For Syracuse Women’s Basketball

Dyaisha Fair dribbles at the top of the key against NC State.
© 2023 Gabe Carr-Johnson
Dyaisha Fair dribbles at the top of the key against NC State.

The first win of the New Year still awaits the Syracuse women's basketball. WAER's Luke Schwartz previews tonight's matchup with Pitt, a chance for the Orange to get that first victory in 2023.

“Just thinking about how we can continue to get better.”

Dyaisha Fair raised her somber head and spoke those ten words softly into the microphone following her team's loss against sixth-ranked NC State.

She walked out of the room with her shoulders low and face staring at the ground with silent tears rolling down her cheek.

In her first season wearing the orange and blue, losses like Sunday nights showed just how much she cares for this team. A few turnovers, missed free throws, or eight straight scoreless minutes to start the fourth quarter could have been brought up, but instead, an emotional loss turned to fuel for the future without excuses.

It may have been Syracuse’s second ACC loss of the season, but this team continues to show progress, and it’s only going up.

Thursday evening is a perfect opportunity to continue to showcase this young and determined team culture to another ACC opponent.

The orange play host to the Pittsburgh Panthers, who sit at the bottom of conference standings with a 7-7 overall record and 0-3 in ACC play.

Pittsburgh is currently on a two-game losing streak and will play away from their home court for just the sixth time this season. Pitt is 5-4 at home, 1-1 away, and 1-2 neutral.

This bodes well for Syracuse who boast an impressive 9-1 record at home. The Orange started the season 9-0 in the JMA Wireless Dome until the team fell to No. 6 NC State 56-54 on Sunday night.

Pittsburgh brings size and speed to the table. The Panthers average four blocks per contest and swipe away at loose balls for an average of 8.8 steals per game. The team shoots 41 percent from the field and 32 percent from the three-point line.

Syracuse can take a deep breath because Pittsburgh should not beat them at the free-throw line. Pitt has struggled this year at the charity strike for just 68 percent on 214 attempts.

The Orange are known for pushing the ball up the court quickly, with Dyaisha Fair leading the charge and her dynamic duo of Teisha Hyman. Although Hyman is coming off a tough performance against NC State. She made zero buckets and went 0-6 from the field, along with overthrowing the potential game-winning inbounds pass on the second to last play of the game.

Syracuse fans got to witness an up close eruption of sophomore Georgia Woolley against NC State, where the Australian native put up 23 points and went 4-5 from downtown.

Another big key to Syracuse will be implementing points in the paint. With physical forwards down low in Asia String and Dariauna Lewis, attacking the rim is a formula for success in order to open up the mid-range and three-point game for Syracuse’s outside shooters.

Now let’s meet the Panthers. The biggest threat to the Orange is number two, Liatu King. A six-foot-tall junior with the ability to wreak havoc on both sides of the ball. She averages 11.0 points per game and 8.6 rebounds per game. She has three double-doubles on the season and put up 26 points against North Alabama.

Number one Dayshanette Harris, and number five, Amber Brown are two solid seniors that command the basketball and average just over nine points per game. Brown is quite agile for over six feet and Harris is swiftly in the lane with a little bit of space to the bucket.

Syracuse will also need to key in on two pivotal role players that come off the bench. Freshman guard Marley Washenitz and senior guard Emy Hayford. For a team that lacks in assists, these two have been a helping hand in that category. Good vision and always looking for the extra pass. When either player has the ball, history has shown they are looking for a cutter or open teammate to shoot.

Dyaisha Fair leads Syracuse in scoring with 18.7 points per game and, in all 14 games played this year, has scored double digits. Teisha Hyman comes in second with 13.7, and Dariauna Lewis averaging a near double-double at 9.9 points and 9.8 rebounds.

Expect more confident shooting from Georgia Woolley after her dominant performance against the Wolfpack, where she’s shooting 34 percent from three-point range and averaging 9.3 points a game.

Pittsburgh is coached by Lance White in his fifth season with the team. Coming off an 11-19 record a season ago and 2-16 in conference play. White spent the previous 15 seasons coaching Florida State, where the Seminoles posted a 350-145 record during his tenure.

Syracuse is looking for their 10th win at home and second victory in ACC play. Tip-off is at 6:00 pm in the JMA Wireless Dome.

A chance for both Dyaisha Fair and her squad to continue to better.