On paper, a primetime Atlantic Coast Conference matchup against the No. 2 team in the country had all the makings of a signature win.
On the hardwood, it would not be as easy to come by. The No. 15th-ranked Syracuse women’s basketball team could not keep pace with Louisville’s explosive offense, losing 76-51 Thursday night inside the KFC Yum! Center.
Guard Kiara Lewis was the Orange’s leading scorer, pouring in 13 points – her eighth game this season with double-digit points. Syracuse shot 32.3 percent from the floor as a team, however, struggling to generate consistent offense.
From the opening tip, it was apparent that Louisville was in sync offensively. The Cardinals shot 50 percent from the floor in first quarter and connected on all eight of their free-throw attempts.
They were even hotter in the second quarter.
Up by 13 after the first 10 minutes of play, the No. 2 team in the country improved upon its field-goal shooting percentage out of the break. The Cardinals made 56.3 percent of their shots in the second to pull away from the Orange. Behind guard Asia Durr’s hot hand, the Cardinals opened a 24-point lead in the second before entering halftime ahead by 21.
The Orange came out with renewed spirit in the second half. An 8-0 run, started by forward Miranda Drummond’s three-pointer and sustained by a relentless defensive effort, closed the gap back to 13 early in the third quarter.
Louisville would not give in that easily, however. The Cardinals responded with an 8-0 run of their own to put a stranglehold on the game. Syracuse trailed by as much as 30, its largest deficit of the season, midway through the fourth quarter.
Drummond was a perfect 3-of-3 from the floor Thursday night for the Orange, scoring nine points – all of which came on three-pointers. Guard Tiana Mangakahia handed out a team-high six assists, while guard Emily Engstler had a team-high six rebounds.
Syracuse returns home Sunday, Feb. 10, to begin a five-game homestand. The Orange face Boston College at 2 p.m. on ACC Network Extra.