Sophie Burrows excels in Syracuse women’s basketball debut

Sophie Burrows excels in Syracuse debut

SU showed its new weapon in the first exhibition appearance, presenting an offensive advantage.

Syracuse Orange host The College of Saint Rose during a game an exhibition game at JMA Dome, 31 October, 2023. (NewsHouse Photo by Theoplis Stewart II)
Theoplis Stewart II
Sophie Burrows led the way for the Orange as they hosted the College of Saint Rose for an exhibition game on Tuesday at the JMA Wireless Dome.

Freshman guard Sophie Burrows lurked behind sophomore guard Kennedi Perkins as she dribbled through the half-court. Perkins handed the ball to the Australian and set up a screen to open a shot from the arc. Burrows launched the missile without hesitation, knocking down her sixth three-pointer of the game.

Syracuse dominated Saint Rose 77-53 in its lone exhibition before the season tip-off. Amid the absence of guard Georgia Woolley, guard Cheyenne McEvans and forward Saniaa Wilson, Burrows and fellow freshman, forward Alyssa Latham, enabled the Orange to shine on the offensive end during their debut for the program.

“The highlight is we can score the ball,” Syracuse head coach Felisha Leggette-Jack joked after the game.

Leggette-Jack said the Golden Knights’ quality of coaching and system was the reason why Syracuse was scheduled to play them. “I thought they challenged us, a lot of them break up a little, get that done and we’ll get better because of it,” Leggette-Jack said.

Syracuse Orange host The College of Saint Rose during for an exhibition game at JMA Dome, 31 October, 2023.
Theoplis Stewart II
Syracuse demonstrated solid offensive work from the start against a challenging team.

SU’s star graduate guard Dyaisha Fair led the team to an early 6-0 lead with a layup and an assist to sophomore forward Kyra Wood. After forcing a timeout from the Golden Knights, the Orange started pressing and caused six turnovers. On the offensive end, Syracuse kept an impressive face on the battlefield.

Fair, Latham, and Burrows combined for four three-pointers to expand the lead.

Graduate center Izabel Varejão came off the bench midway through the first quarter. Her 6-foot-4 frame and dominance in the paint directly generated a positive effect on both sides for Syracuse, tallying eight points and three rebounds in her first six minutes.

Saint Rose began to tighten up its defense in the second quarter. With Syracuse dropping a series of possessions due to turnovers and defensive pressure, the Golden Knights attempted to narrow the gap, while keeping Syracuse scoreless for over three minutes.

Varejão broke the Orange’s deadlock from the deep right post, notching a fade-away jumper through a post-up play over Saint Rose’s Maddisyn Mahoney. That proved to be her last points of the night, but she was yet to unleashed her best defense with a game-leading 4 blocks.

“Having her (Varejão) as a presence, I think that’s kind of what we lacked,” Fair said. “Her ability to block shots away. Once we get to where she wants to be, she will be into games.”

Rose's Payton Graber (#4) before being injured on the play on Tuesday.
Theoplis Stewart II
Dominique Camp steals the ball from Saint Rose’s Payton Graber before being injured on the play on Tuesday.

Fair brought her momentum from the first half into the third quarter, getting 11 points to add to the lead even more. Varejão was frozen after Saint Rose set up double teams on her, but Latham came out as reinforcement and got to the line.

Fair ripped the Golden Knights’ two-man defense with her pace, hitting a runner from the right over Rylie Blasetti. After Burrows nailed her last three of the night, the Orange had the game in the bag.

Syracuse encountered another three-minute scoreless run during the final minutes of the game, but Perkins got to the line to ice it.

Fair and Burrows both racked up a team-high 20 points, while Latham notched 13 points and sophomore guard Lexi McNabb tallied 8 assists.

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Theoplis Stewart II
Dominique Camp works around Saint Rose’s defense.

The Orange will next face Lafayette on Tuesday as the season opener. The home game tips off at 7:00 p.m.