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UConn ends Syracuse women’s basketball’s season in second round of NCAA Tournament

Saniaa WIlson fouls Paige Bueckers (5, white) during the second half.
Saniaa WIlson fouls Paige Bueckers (5, white) during the second half.

No. 6 seed Syracuse women’s basketball (24-8, 13-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) had its season ended by No. 3 seed UConn (31-5, 18-0 Big East) in a 72-64 loss on Monday. The Orange were eliminated in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

After trailing by 11 points at halftime, the Orange pulled within two points late. Despite the comeback, SU couldn’t claim the lead.

Syracuse struggled on offense early largely because of the team’s leading scorer on the season, guard Dyaisha Fair. Despite averaging 22.3 points per game, the graduate student had just two points midway through the contest. Fair did come alive in the second half, finishing with 20 points. Still, other members of the ‘Cuse had to step up.

Freshman Sophie Burrows had the best game of her young career, tallying a personal best 18 points on six made three-pointers. Junior Georgia Woolley also scored 18 points.

Woolley (5, orange) rises for an open three-point shot.
Woolley (5, orange) rises for an open three-point shot.

The even distribution of scoring load is fitting for a team that will have to play without Dyaisha Fair next year, as the guard has no more years of college eligibility. Replacing a top-five scorer in women’s college basketball history won’t be easy, but SU head coach Felisha Legette-Jack isn’t worried.

"Dyaisha Fair just passed the torch right in front of your eyes,” Legette-Jack said after the game, discussing who would lead the Orange next season. “Her name is Georgia Woolley."

Even though Fair won’t be taking the court with Syracuse next year, she’ll still have an impact on the team.

“She’s taught me so much,” Woolley said of Fair. “Not just about basketball, but just everything. She’s amazing.”

Fair finishes her career as the third-leading scorer in women’s college basketball history. The Rochester native made NCAA Tournament appearances with both Buffalo and Syracuse, both under Coach Jack. Despite those accomplishments, Fair wants her legacy to be the lessons she’s taught her teammates.

“I’ve shown them that no matter what anyone says or doesn’t say about you, you can do whatever it is you want to do,” Fair said after the loss. “I think that I’ve shown my teammates for the last five years that they can do anything.”

While Fair will move on from Syracuse, the Orange are bringing in two top-100 recruits next season. Shy Hawkins and Keira Scott, both 4-star wings, represent Legette-Jack’s strongest recruiting class at SU.