Syracuse arrived in town Thursday night, having won seven games in its last eight outings. Ranked 22nd in the nation. Led by Dyaisha Fair, the sixth all-time scorer in women’s college basketball. Small wonder she’s climbing up the list, she’s been around forever, this is her fifth year of play, including time at Buffalo. Full of energy, brash, big and more than its share of talented athletes. They clearly expected to win and were indeed a handful.
Sorry guys, but the University of Louisville women’s basketball team has ambitions as well. No one is going to be intimidated by a team drive by adrenaline, real or manufactured. Louisville will survive this game with more than its share of hard knocks, a physical barricade with ever-moving parts. Too much at stake for the Cardinals. They will prevail by 81-69 in front of a crowd of 8,254 at the KFC Yum! Center. The win improved UofL’s won-lost record to 19-3 overall and 8-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Louisville opened the second quarter on a 14-2 run to take a 30-23 lead with 4:15 remaining in the half. The Orange and the Cardinals would trade runs for the rest of the quarter, with UofL heading into halftime with ahead, 40-34. The Cardinals would lead by not less than five points for the rest of the game, leading by as much as 15 points in the fourth quarter.
Dyaisha Fair lived up to her billing, amassing a game-leading 28 points. But the vast majority of those points would come after UofL had established its dominance.
Impressive but Kiki Jefferson, Nyla Harris, Nina Rickards, Sydney Taylor, Olivia Cochran weren’t going to be denied. Certainly not by a “one-man band.” Generously sharing the basketball, with 12 assists between them. Outrebounding a physical Syracuse 43-36 on the boards. Coming up with nine steals, forcing Syracuse into nine turnovers, converting those miscues into 21 points.
Jefferson led all Louisville scorers, with six of 12 from the field for 21 points. She was joined in the limelight by Nyla Harris in a career night, with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Taylor made three-of-six from beyond the arc, with 13 points and a team-high four assists.
As usual, Cochran set the tone in the middle, refusing to be pushed around, adding nine points and nine rebounds this evening. She also had three steals and two blocked shots. \
A hard-earned win for the Cardinals, deservedly so. But expect an even more rugged battle when they meet again in Syracuse on February 11th. The bandwagon is in full effect in the rust-belt city.