Fair returns from injury to lead No. 6 seed Syracuse to a 74-69 opening-round win over Arizona

STORRS, Conn. (AP) — It looked really bad for Syracuse when star Dyaisha Fair was being carried off the court at the end of the third quarter, unable to put any pressure on her legs.

It looked a lot better after the third-team All-American returned from the locker room just over two minutes into the fourth quarter, high-fived her coach and went back into the game.

Fair scored 32 points, including her team's final 13 to lead the Orange to a 74-69 come-from behind win over No. 11 seed Arizona in the first round of the women's NCAA Tournament on Saturday.

“When she came to the bench and I looked at her and she said two words, ‘I’m good,' I smacked her hand so hard I might have broke her arm,” said coach Felisha Legette-Jack. “You know that's a fourth-quarter kid.”

Fair's personal game-winning run began with the Orange trailing 66-61 with 3:16 left. Alyssa Latham added 10 points for Syracuse (24-7).

Freshman Skyler Jones had 24 points while Jada Williams and Helena Pueyo each added 14 for Arizona (18-16), which has played much of the season with just seven women in uniform.

“In this period, they're just tired,” said Arizona coach Adia Barnes. “So, I think it wears on you.”

The Wildcats led by as many as nine points in the first half at 31-22 after a 3-pointer from Williams. But Fair scored five points in the final 41 seconds of the second quarter to cut the deficit to 37-32 at intermission.

Syracuse kept chipping away at the Arizona lead and a steal and fast-break layup by Fair tied the game at 51.

The fifth-year guard went down hard after driving into Arizona's Isis Beh on the final play of the third quarter. She lay on the floor for several minutes and had to be carried into the locker room without putting any weight on her legs.

“I twisted it and landed on it I think,” Fair said. “When you don’t know, you don’t know. I just prayed that it wasn’t serious.”

Kennedi Perkins jump shot to open the fourth quarter gave the Orange their first lead at 53-51.

Then Fair emerged from the locker room to cheers just over two minutes into the quarter and was back on the court a short time later.

But Arizona fought back. They went up 64-59 on a layup by Breya Cunningham and led 66-61 before Fair took over.

Her 3-pointer from the top of the key with 1:17 left gave the Orange a 68-66 lead.

An offensive foul on Arizona's Jones gave the ball to Syracuse, and the Orange never gave back the lead,


Arizona: The Wildcats earned the right to play in this game by beating Auburn in a First Four matchup on Thursday. They never trailed in that game and forced 23 Auburn turnovers.

Syracuse: Fair's 32 points are a school record for the NCAA Tournament. This is the Orange's 13th appearance, but first since 2021.


Arizona committed 22 personal fouls to 11 for Syracuse. Esmery Martinez fouled out and Williams and Jones each finished the game with four fouls.


Syracuse faces UConn on Monday night. The Huskies beat Jackson State 86-64 in Saturday's first game in Storrs.


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