Teisha Hyman dominates, depth struggles

Teisha Hyman dominates, depth struggles

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The first time Syracuse played a Big Ten opponent this year, the Orange coughed up a huge double-digit lead that lasted until the midway point of the third quarter. A fourth-quarter collapse led to its first loss of the season, falling to Penn State 82-69.

This time, SU fell behind early, but overcame a big second-half deficit of nearly 20 points to pull within five with about five minutes left. However, the Orange fell just short of completing a comeback over the Boilermakers, falling 87-78.

Here are some observations from Syracuse’s second loss of the season:

Teisha Hyman proves she’s interchangeable with Dyaisha Fair

After six games this season, people praised Teisha Hyman’s ability to take a backseat to starting point guard Dyaisha Fair. Fair, who is comfortable with the ball primarily in his hands, leads the Orange with 19 points per game and has been the focal point of Syracuse’s offense thus far. But lately, Hyman has proven that her streaky shooting and flashy moves can help her team advance just like Fair does. She showed that in today’s matchup with Purdue.

Down early, and after a broken play, Fair gave the ball up to Teisha Hyman who crossed the ball over twice before rising for a jumper. Her attempt skittered around the rim before falling for Hyman’s tenth point of the game. Soon after, she took the ball on the right wing and shot without hesitation and scored a three-pointer.

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Trailing 51-34 to start the third quarter, Hyman jumped the passing lanes to intercept an errant Purdue transition attempt and swung the ball over the timeline to Fair. Hyman’s steal gave Syracuse a three-on-two fast break and Fair teased a wide-open three before passing to Hyman at the top of the key. Hyman dribbled once, then pulled up behind the free throw line and sank it.

Down by just 10 points with just under seven minutes remaining in the final quarter, Hyman hesitated on the fast break and went hard to his defender. Hyman flew to the left side of the basket and was hacked as she put up. Her shot dropped for two when the officials whistled for a foul, setting up a potential three-point play as Syracuse cut it to just eight.

Hyman was the lone bright spot for Syracuse offensively, finishing the night with 26 points to lead her team in scoring.

Syracuse plays too much one-on-one

So far this season, head coach Felisha Legette-Jack has praised her team’s ability to score in bunches on the fast break, encouraging a fast-paced brand of basketball. But it seems that when Syracuse goes up against more disciplined opponents, the Orange are forced to field a half-court offense.

Typically, Syracuse loves to pass the ball around the perimeter, setting a couple of off-ball screens to open up bigs and shooting plays. But when no open looks come out of those sets, the Orange turn to either Hyman or Fair, standing still while the two backs go to work.

After the first half in Lafayette, Fair had just one point as Purdue’s decision to game plan around her paid dividends.

Sometimes Syracuse’s isolation would pay off. Fair forced his way through the trees of the Purdue defense with 1:12 left in the third quarter and sent a right-handed bank shot in for his first field goal of the contest. Just a few plays in, Asia Strong put together a series of crossovers before driving to her right and putting the ball up and over her nearest defender. Both of these buckets were neat and successful, but they only happened a handful of times.

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There is a clear gap between Syracuse and the teams at the top

There is no doubt that Syracuse has a ton of talent.

Equipped with one of the best backcourt tandems in the nation and a strong frontcourt presence in Strong and Dariauna Lewis, there’s a reason the Orange have jumped out to a 5-1 start before playing the Boilermakers.

However, a team largely made up of transfers and freshmen has not had time to properly gel and create chemistry. Matched up against this Purdue team, SU miscommunicated on the defensive end, allowing easy baskets inside for the opposition. The Boilermakers also executed their set plays better. Experience showed as Purdue spread the floor and allowed their point guard, Jeanae Terry, to find her teammates effectively.

Down nearly 20 points, Hyman stole the ball and pushed forward, running the floor with Cheyenne McEvans by her side. With only a defender in front of both, Hyman fed the ball to McEvans who stepped up for a layup. The discipline of Terry to keep his eyes on the ball, and strip McEvans clean, showed a stark difference between the two sides and their composure around the basket.

Towards the end of the game, Syracuse went on a 16-3 scoring run and came as close as 5 points. But with about three and a half minutes left, Hyman came up the floor and passed the ball to Lewis. 0-for-1 in the game so far, Lewis pulled up from three without hesitation and watched her attempt clink to the back of the rim and out with Purdue pulling down the rebound.

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Strong, who had hit four from range up to this point, teased her defender in the left corner a few plays later. She pulled back and lifted an impossible shot that missed everything. Although the aerial ball fell into Syracuse’s hands, the Orange were unable to capitalize on the extra offensive possession.

Poor decision making shown by Strong and Lewis possibly cost Syracuse the game. After both misses, the Boilermakers went down the other end of the court to hit back-to-back 3-point plays.

Syracuse’s deep struggles to make any real impact

Throughout tonight’s game, Legette-Jack rotated through a good number of players. Kyra Wood, Saniaa Wilson, Alaina Rice and McEvans all enjoyed solid minutes on the hardwood. The only problem was that the bench failed to contribute any real production on either end of the floor. Both freshmen for Syracuse saw no playing time.

The four players combined for a total of 31 minutes, but collected just three points, all of which came from McEvans.

Substitutes looked like they had no real leadership unless Hyman or Fair were on the field. Without the dynamic backcourt, McEvans did his best to try to get his team into a set game, but during those periods of play, Syracuse looked agitated and nervous.

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Contact Tyler: [email protected]

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