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Biggest test of the new year: Syracuse women's basketball hosts No. 7 Notre Dame

Alaina Rice (Orange #25) pulls up for a side wing three-point shot.
Alaina Rice pulls up for a side wing three-point shot.

Syracuse women's basketball goes for its fourth straight win as it welcomes in No. 7 Notre Dame. Luke Schwartz previews Sunday's showdown in the Dome.

Navy seals have a common saying:

“Under pressure, you do not rise to the occasion, you sink to your level of your training.”

Watching Syracuse women's basketball play lately, there is no doubt this team has meticulously prepared for every opponent differently, leading to their three-game win streak.

The Orange are coming off a stellar road win against Boston College, 83-73. Dyaisha Fair had a usual outing with her ninth 20-plus point performance with 25. The surprise X-factor came off the bench. Alaina Rice stepped up big with 17 points off the pine to lead her squad to their third straight ACC win.

Dyaisha Fair (Orange #2) extends her left hand for a driving layup at the rim.
Dyaisha Fair extends her left hand for a driving layup at the rim.

Syracuse looked good to start this season, but with each passing game, this group looks better and better. In 2023, the Orange are 3-1, and their only loss was a two-point defeat against, at the time, sixth-ranked NC State.

Syracuse trounced the Panthers of Pittsburgh, caged the Tigers of Clemson, and didn’t allow the Eagles of Boston College to soar. The Orange handled their conference foe by studying their strengths and play styles. If Syracuse wants to make it four straight wins, this team needs to know everything about seventh-ranked Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish boast an impressive 13-2 record, 4-1 in ACC play. If you are familiar with Notre Dame as a whole, it is almost a known fact that playing at the highest level is a consistent factor when wearing the navy and gold.

With 12 skillful players on Notre Dame’s roster, one sticks out more than all the others: Olivia Miles.

The sophomore guard can do it all. She leads her team in scoring, rebounds and assists per game. Averaging 15 points, 7.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game. She is a Nancy Lieberman Award Top-5 finalist and was an AP All-American a season ago. If the lady with sports glasses has the basketball, it could be bad news for Syracuse.

Two other notable players, Sonia Citron and Maddy Westbeld. Citron, standing over six feet tall and has the speed of a guard. She ranks second on the team in points per game at 14.3 and averages just about six rebounds per contest. Westbeld can shoot the three-point shot pretty well. 39 percent on the season and will look for the deep ball consistently. She averages nearly 11 points and six and a half boards.

Notre Dame is as dominant as they are because starters to bench players, anyone on this roster can check in and make an impact. Seven players average over five points per game and can deal damage at any given time.

The Fighting Irish have a pattern to their record. Started the season 6-0 and then lost. Won the next six straight and then lost.

This squad is quite good on the road. A 7-1 record as their only loss away from the Purcell Pavilion came at North Carolina. Syracuse will rely on their grand home record of 10-1 in the JMA Wireless Dome.

The head coach of the Irish is Niele Ivey, in her third year at the helm. Her resume speaks for itself. Former point guard for Notre Dame, All-American, five-year WNBA player and became the ninth active female to coach in the NBA. Her talent and skill has transcended into coaching as her Irish are having yet another great season.

Syracuse is 13-4 overall and 4-2 in conference play. With the Orange’s last win over Boston College, Syracuse ties the amount of ACC wins the program had a season ago at four. Syracuse was 11-18 overall and 4-14 in conference play.

Tip-off is set for 2:00 on Sunday, January 15th in the JMA Wireless Dome.