UConn closes out Syracuse’s season at NCAA tournament

UConn closes out Syracuse’s season at NCAA tournament

The Huskies topped the Orange to eliminate Syracuse in the second round.

Georgia Woolley #5 and Dyaisha Fair #2 of the Syracuse Orange react during the second half of a second round NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament game against the Connecticut Huskies at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion on March 25, 2024 in Storrs, Connecticut.
Georgia Woolley consoles Dyaisha Fair during Monday’s second round NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament game against the UConn Huskies.

With a Sweet 16 rematch against Duke University on the line, No. 6 Syracuse women’s basketball took on the No. 3 University of Connecticut on Monday in the second round of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

UConn, women’s basketball royalty, proved too much for the Orange.

It took late Dyaisha Fair heroics to get Syracuse past No. 11 University of Arizona in the first round. Despite keeping close to the Huskies, Syracuse lost 72-64, marking the end of its 2023-24 campaign.

Here are three takeaways from the Orange’s loss:

Bueckers’ Buckets

UConn outperformed Syracuse’s shooting consistently throughout the contest, but Paige Bueckers had a standout game. The Orange did not make it easy for the home side, and she was the difference.

Her 32-point performance was too much for the Orange to handle, despite the visitor’s late resurgence.

On top of her 32 points against Syracuse, Bueckers did it all for her team: 10 rebounds, six assists and a block. Having scored 28 points against Jackson State in an 86-64 win, Bueckers and UConn, thus far, have risen to the post-season’s challenges.

At the final buzzer, no one deserved to celebrate more than her.

Dyaisha Fair #2 of the Syracuse Orange shoots over Paige Bueckers #5, Aaliyah Edwards #3 and Ice Brady #25 of the Connecticut Huskies during the second half of a second round NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament game at the Harry A. Gampel Pavilion on March 25, 2024 in Storrs, Connecticut.
SU’s Dyaisha Fair shoots over a trio of Connecticut defenders during the second half Monday’s NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament

Fourth-quarter Fair makes history… again

It’s gotten predictable, but graduate guard Dyaisha Fair’s fourth-quarter performance was clutch, once again. Fair also made history, again, becoming the third-highest scorer in NCAA women’s basketball, overtaking Jackie Stiles and Kelsey Mitchell during the loss.

Down double-digits with just over eight minutes to play, Fair charged toward the paint, before stumbling back and launching a three. The shot canceled Bueckers’ own seconds earlier to bring the game down to a seven-point margin.

At that point, it looked like fourth-quarter Fair could be emerging, and though she did, the comeback never materialized. 

Ultimately, Syracuse needed Fair to catch fire earlier in the game. She couldn’t get her shots to hit in the first half and was locked down by the UConn defense, scoring only two points.

Fair ended the game with 20 points, enough to make history, but not enough to get the Orange into the next round. 

The supporting cast comes to play

Fair was not alone against UConn. There were some bright performances around fair on Monday, especially early on amid the guard’s shooting woes.

Freshman guard Sophie Burrows and junior guard Georgia Woolley both went for 18 points. They kept the Orange in the contest while Fair was drowned by the UConn defense in the first half.

Burrow’s hit her career-high in points, going 6-for-11 from deep.  

Though junior forward Kyra Wood and freshman forward Alyssa Latham had low-scoring games, their rebounding was also key to Syracuse’s ability to transition quickly from defense to offense.

Syracuse’s season was a memorable one, and the team’s two close matches in the NCAA Tournament prove that it can compete against any other in the country.

Although Legette-Jack will go into next season without Fair, there is something developing on the hill. Syracuse women’s basketball will be back for more.