Syracuse women’s basketball knocks off Stony Brook in season opener, 79-56
Syracuse women's basketball knocks off Stony Brook in season opener
The Felisha Legette-Jack era is off to a good start in Syracuse.
The Orange women’s basketball team opened their regular season with a 79-56 victory against Stony Brook on Monday afternoon.
The Orange entered the game riding a win in their sole exhibition matchup against Le Moyne, but knew that they were going to be tested by a superior Stony Brook squad.
The Orange offense lived and died with captain Teisha Hyman in the first quarter. Her team-high seven points propelled the group, but Hyman’s shooting in the period, 37.5% from the field, highlight the danger of being reliant on just one player.
Syracuse extended its lead to as many as 13 points in the second quarter, capturing the momentum. Guard Elaina Rice converted on a steal-and-score with 5:30 left on the clock after the Orange defense swarmed opposing guard Kelis Corley, electrifying the Dome crowd. Stony Brook remained in striking distance briefly, but a pair of ‘Cuse triples kept the visiting Seawolves at bay.
Back-to-back transition layups for captain Dyaisha Fair extended the Orange lead to double-digits with just under a minute remaining in the half, the latter being a joyful underhanded finish as Fair contorted herself to scoop the ball in at high speeds. Syracuse converted one more time as forward Dariauna Lewis took the ball up herself to land a short jump-shot, giving the Orange a 39-26 halftime lead.
Once again, Syracuse dominated the glass in the opening half of play, bringing down 18 offensive rebounds. Being a former post player herself, Coach Legette-Jack was more than pleased with her team’s performance down low — especially highlighting Lewis, who amassed 16 boards, eight on offense and eight on defense.
“I’ve never seen a person who can rebound like Dariauna Lewis. It’s just magical to see how she pursues rebounds, and now she’s got that verticality too,” Coach Legette-Jack said. “What was really exciting was if [when] I saw two bigs fighting for a ball. Post player like me? My heart was almost skipping a beat.”
“I feel like rebounding is an essential part of the game,” Lewis said. “That’s what I came here to do. I came here to rebound. My guards need me to rebound, so that they can keep shooting because that’s what they do.”
The Orange struggled out of the gate in the third quarter, scoring just two points in the first 4:15 of play. But after a strong transition play from forward Asia Strong off a Stony Brook miss and then Hyman jumping the passing lane for a layup, Syracuse’s advantage was back up to 12 points.
Throughout the afternoon, the Orange consistently excelled when taking advantage of Stony Brook mistakes whether they were missed field goals or turnovers. The Seahawks turned the ball over 22 total times, leading to 25 points scored on the other end.
“I love the way [Syracuse] gets out and goes, but if they don’t defend we’re going to slow it down,” Legette-Jack noted. “Our goal is to keep [opponents] under 59 points. That’s my whole mantra. We can go as fast as you want, as long as you can defend.”
From there, the second half didn’t see much more resistance to ‘Cuse, either. Stony Brook never shaved more than four points off the halftime lead, the Orange rode a 14-0 run to a 23-point victory.
After the final buzzer sounded, an impassioned Coach Legette-Jack grabbed the PA’s microphone and spoke to the crowd, urging the fans that her team wasn’t going to let opponents come to Syracuse and “take what we think belongs to us.”
Before putting it back down, the head coach belted out one rallying cry.
“Let’s. Go. Syracuse!” Coach Legette-Jack said.
“I know, with my heart, that we’re going to grow this to five-to-ten thousand people,” she said. “It made me want to thank the ones that started. And that’s what came to my heart to say, I want their pride to be earned by us and I want them to understand that it’s not taken for granted.”
Fair is emerging as Syracuse’s leader early in the year. The seasoned point guard led her team in minutes (36), scoring (18) and assists (4) on Monday.
Her back-court mate Hyman wasn’t too far behind with 16 points and 7 rebounds. The two are still figuring out their fit, but Fair isn’t worried.
“She [Teisha Hyman] knows that I have confidence in her,” Fair said. “It’s a process, but she’ll find me and it’ll be alright.”
Syracuse will host Colgate on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the JMA Wireless Dome.