Shorthanded Syracuse suffers first loss in five weeks, 79-43 to No. 24 North Carolina

SU women's hoops falls 79-43 on the road to North Carolina

Najé Murray and Alaysia Styles did not travel to Chapel Hill in the Orange's weakest offensive game this season.
Published: December 30, 2021 | Updated: January 5th, 2022 at 10:46 pm
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Teisha Hyman, pictured here against Clemson, led the Orange with 11 points in their loss to North Carolina on Thursday.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — In Syracuse women’s basketball’s first true road campaign of the season, one had to end: SU’s six-game winning streak or No. 24 North Carolina’s undefeated season. It would be the former, as the Tar Heels dominated the Orange 79-43 in Chapel Hill.

Missing starters Najé Murray and Alaysia Styles, who did not travel with the team, the Orange struggled to get into a rhythm on offense, shooting 12.5% in the first quarter. Syracuse found some traction in the second quarter, but the Tar Heel defense made the Orange look like they had tar on their heels.

“The more the game went on, the more exhausted we were,” acting head coach Vonn Read said. “They kept rolling in new players, big physical players.”

Syracuse finished with a season-low 43 points, marking their lowest total since Feb. 2, 2020, a 57-41 loss at Virginia. The absence of Murray’s leadership and Styles’ inside presence, as well as Jayla Thornton and Eboni Walker, forced Read to get creative with his rotations. But the revamped lineups only created confusion for the Orange.

“I think the one thing that really hurt us is just we had no chemistry offensively,” Read said. “That’s why we saw so many turnovers.”

Syracuse and North Carolina came into the game leading the ACC in turnovers forced per game at 21.4 and 21.1 respectively. For the Tar Heels, it was more of the same tonight as they forced 23 Orange turnovers, leading to 26 points on the other end.

Syracuse failed to reciprocate UNC’s thievery, forcing just four turnovers. The Orange’s lack of size allowed the Tar Heels to collect 26 offensive rebounds and tally 22 second-chance points. The Tar Heels couldn’t buy a three-pointer all night, but dominated down low; UNC outscored Syracuse 50-10 inside in the paint.

In front of a large support section, redshirt-sophomore Teisha Hyman led the Orange with 11 points but shot just 3/13 from the field. The offense struggled across the board, as Orange’s four leading scorers each committed at least four turnovers.

Read said there isn’t much to take away from the film, but notes it is important to find ways to improve despite the circumstances. “I could be in this position again at some point and so you’ve got to try to learn something from it,” he said.

“I thought our kids played extremely hard,” Read said. “We just got worn down. That’s just the COVID thing right now.”

Syracuse is scheduled to host Florida State on Sunday at 2 p.m., but the game could be in jeopardy if one or more players are added to the health & safety protocols.