Syracuse sends a message with win over Alabama

Syracuse send a message with win over Alabama

Coach Felisha Legette-Jack let the world know her team would push up the AP Polls.

Syracuse Guard Alaina Rice (#25) drives along the bottom of the key for a layup, Thursday November 30.
Guard Alaina Rice drives along the bottom of the key for a layup in the JMA Wireless Dome, on Thursday night.

In the Inaugural ACC/SEC matchup, Syracuse made the Crimson Tide see Orange taking down Alabama in a 79-73 victory.

As a nation-best, six ACC teams are ranked in the latest Associated Press polls, Syracuse head coach Felisha Legette-Jack said this switch proves the ACC is one of the toughest women’s basketball conferences in the nation.

“Let people understand, ACC is alive and well in women’s basketball,” said Legette-Jack. “We’re going to come to you and I’m just so humbled by that.”

Going into last night’s game, Syracuse and Alabama both received votes in the AP Polls, making it for the first time for Cuse hoops in the Legette-Jack era. Her message to the polls this season?

“There is still a long way to go … but our story is so significant,” said Legette- Jack. “We’re coming.”

Hearts raced in the Dome from the start as Alabama jumped out first with a 5-0 lead. However, the Crimson Tides’ current didn’t last long as the Orange went on a 7-0 run of their own.

Freshman forward Alyssa Latham ignited the offensive fire for the Orange, putting up their first points on the scoreboard 3:14 into regulation. She tallied her third double-double of the season with a career high 23 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots. The freshman, playing like a veteran, led all scorers in a line up full of upperclasswomen.

Syracuse Forward Alyssa Latham (#23) nails a layup after beating two Alabama defenders to the hoop in the JMA Wireless Dome during Thursday's game.
Ryan Jermyn
Alyssa Latham nails a layup after beating two Alabama defenders to the hoop on Thursday’s game.

Latham faced scoring difficulties at the South Point Shootout in Las Vegas during Thanksgiving break, putting up a sparse four points against Iowa State, and 13 total points in the tournament. She said she was disappointed in her performance and knew the story of Syracuse women’s basketball needed her character to shine.

“Our story is bigger than ourselves,” said Latham. “Those couple games I played bad … and I felt like I needed to step up either for sisters and myself.”

Latham led SU to a six-point lead at the half, but Alabama would not let this last.

Coming out of the half, Alabama pressed Cuse full court, annihilating their halftime deficit. The Crimson Tide got back in the game scoring 23 of 25 points off turnovers committed by the Orange in the second half. UA tied the game up at 45 by hitting six of its first seven shots from the field. Then, something scary happened.

Graduate guard Dyaisha Fair fell to the ground halfway through the third quarter and was carried off the court by teammates while grabbing at her left knee.

“Anytime someone like the Dyaisha goes down we have to rally together,” said Georgia Woolley, a junior guard who returned for her first home game after dealing with an injury earlier this season. “We have to think if Dyaisha was on right now, what would we be doing?”

The Orange responded by scoring the game’s next 10 points to take the lead for good at 55-45.

Syracuse Head Coach Felisha Legette-Jack calls a play adjustment from the coach's box, Thursday November 30.
Ryan Jermyn
Syracuse head coach Felisha Legette-Jack calls a play adjustment from the sidelines.
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Ryan Jermyn
The Orange rally to lift up a teammate following a rough play at Thursday’s game.

Fair was able to enter the game in the fourth quarter, ending the night with 20 points and 7 assists. Fellow captain, junior forward Kyra Wood notched her second double-double in a row with 10 points and 13 rebounds off the bench. In Woolley’s first game back in the Dome, she had 10 points and five assists.

Alabama went on a late 8-0 run to bring the game within two points before the Orange put the game away with two free throws from Fair in the final 30 seconds of the game. Soon after, the Orange rushed the court to celebrate a hard fought win.

The Syracuse bench erupts after a clutch foul is drawn on Thursday night.
Ryan Jermyn
The Syracuse bench erupts after a clutch foul is drawn on Thursday night.

Remaining undefeated on their home court, the Orange are 6-1 inching closer to conference play. As they continue their anticipated success, Legette-Jack wants her message to remain clear: despite wins and losses, each woman on that team matters for reasons far beyond basketball.

“That’s what we’re trying to do here. Young people, that’s going to be CEOs and nurses and doctors and things of that nature. It matters to this game. And if I’m not here because I’m not putting up wins and I get fired, we’ve ever done that before,” said Legette-Jack. “I want these young people to remember that they matter and they are enough from this game and not just because we won a basketball game.”

Syracuse will host the 4-3 Northeastern Huskies on Monday in the JMA Wireless Dome. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.