When State played Syracuse the first time, Syracuse was ranked 20th and it was a gauge game for State. State won 67-61, but it was a "sitting on pins and needles" game. State trailed 45-35 with about fourteen minutes left. State took a one point lead 56-55 with just over five minutes left. Brianna Butler hit a three to give Syracuse the lead at 58-56. After "and one" by Kody Burke at 2:32 to give state a 59-58 lead, Brianna Butler hit another three to give Syracuse the lead 61-59. A layup by Miah Spencer with just over a minute left gave State the lead for good at 62-61.
Kody Burke was the only State player who shot well in the game going 7-12 from the field. Markeisha Gatling shot 5-13 from the field, poor for someone who lead the nation in field goal shooting at about 69%. State shot 39.6%, secured 35 rebounds and had 10 turnovers. Syracuse shot 33.3%, secured 42 rebounds and had 11 turnovers. The stats support the closeness of the game. One might conclude that State won the game at the line going 17-21 to 9-10 for Syracuse.
State's final regular season record was 24-6 (11-5 conference) while Syracuse's regular season record was 22-8 (10-6 in conference). State's RPI (WarrenNolan) is 19 while Syracuse's is 21.
Syracuse won at UNC 78-73 and at Miami 69-48. State lost at both UNC and Miami. However, Syracuse got rolled by Maryland twice, while State beat Maryland at home. Syracuse lost to FSU at home, while State beat FSU at home. RPI wise, Syracuse's best win was against number 23 UNC on the road while State's best win was at home against number 13 LSU. State's best win on the road was over number 35 Georgia Tech while for Syracuse it was the win over UNC.
State has the size inside with six-five All-ACC Markeisha Gatling and six-two All-ACC Kody Burke. Syracuse counters with six-three Shakeya Leary and six-foot Isabella Slim. However, freshman six-four Brianna Day gets a lot of playing time.
Syracuse has the edge at the guards with five-eleven McDonald's All-American Brianna Butler (note her three point shooting pointed out above), All-ACC McDonald's All-American five-nine Brittney Sykes and five-seven Rachel Coffey. From the bench Syracuse also has six-foot Taylor Ford, five-seven La Shay Taft and five-eight Cornelia Fondren.
State starts five-five La'Nique Brown, five-eight Miah Spencer and five-nine Krystal Barrett. Off the bench, walk-on five-eight Ashley Williams gets more time than five-eleven Breezy Williams.
State handled Syracuse's zone trap the first time, but had senior former point guard Myisha Goodwin-Coleman starting. She is out. Syracuse will pack the lane against Gatling using a zone as most teams do now. State cannot run up against the shot clock over and over like they did against Notre Dame and must defend the three as Syracuse shoots them well. Look for another "pins and needles" game.
The ACC Blue Ribbon Panel named Notre Dame Coach Muffet McGraw coach of the year. On one hand, with her record, this can be understood, but on the other hand, there was no way a panel associated with the ACC was going to name a coach for State women's basketball coach of the year. Never have-why should it be different this year.