SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Dyaisha Fair started Thursday night accepting a commemorative game ball for surpassing 3,000 career points, an elite mark in the women’s game. She finished it by sending another ranked team out of the JMA Wireless Dome with a loss as she climbs further up the Division I all-time scoring list. She also added a dagger 3 from the logo for fun.
Fair scored a game-high 31 points and hit a program-record nine 3-pointers to lead Syracuse over No. 15 Florida State, 79-73. The Orange (15-2, 5-1 ACC), who were briefly ranked earlier in the month, were one of three unranked teams to upset a ranked opponent in ACC play Thursday night. Miami took down No. 4 N.C. State, 73-59, and Duke trounced No. 14 Virginia Tech, 63-46. No. 13 Louisville, which travels to No. 23 North Carolina on Sunday, is the only undefeated team in conference play.
The Syracuse game was the most thrilling of the night largely because of Fair, a Naismith and Wooden award watch list nominee. After falling behind by 18 points in the third quarter, she drilled a corner 3 at 8:04 of the fourth to give Syracuse the lead, 63-62, for the first time since the opening minutes.
And she called game at 3:35 with a deep 3 from the center-court logo as the shot clock expired. Florida State’s Ta’Niya Latson, the reigning ACC Rookie of the Year, had given the Seminoles (14-5, 5-2) the lead, 69-67, with an easy drive to the basket. But Fair, who looked gassed as she finished out the full 40 minutes, tried to set up a play to respond at the other end. She motioned to move her big to the opposite block, but no one budged.
With two seconds on the shot clock, she “just threw it up,” she said. As with many of her shots, the deep 3 was good all the way.
DYAISHA FAIR AINT PLAYING FAIR.
Deeeeeep three with the shot clock going down to give Syracuse the lead over #15 FSU.
Fair is up to 26 points on 8-13 from deep. pic.twitter.com/PIKmsi4ei7
— Tyler DeLuca (@TylerDeLuca) January 19, 2024
She drained another 3 to break the record on the next possession for a four-point lead, and Syracuse made six free throws to seal another signature win. The Orange defeated Notre Dame at home on Dec. 31, sit in second place in the ACC and are near-locks to return to the NCAA tournament.
Fair, a 5-foot-5 fifth-year guard, eclipsed 3,000 points in Sunday’s win over Clemson to become the 16th player to reach that mark. She now has 3,038, one shy of Elena Delle Donne in 11th and 22 short of tying Ashley Joens, who played five years at Iowa State. If Fair scores around 300 more points this season, which would be about her seasonal average, she could finish her career in the top five the same season Iowa’s Caitlin Clark likely surpasses the all-time mark.
“To be in company with some of those big names, it feels great,” Fair said. “I’m the smallest one in the book, and it’s just, again, incredible. It’s the best word I can use to describe it. And until I can get a different word, that’s what it’s going to be.”
She scored 2,035 points at Buffalo, but all of them have come playing for Felisha Legette-Jack, the Syracuse alumna who left the Bulls for the Orange in 2022. Fair, who grew up between the two cities in Rochester, followed her to the larger program and hasn’t experienced any drop in success. Legette-Jack continues to tell Fair to look in the mirror and tell herself she’s deserving of it.
“The things that I’m able to do, I shock myself,” Fair said. “So it’s like, you’re incredible.”
Legette-Jack doesn’t have that same shock watching from the bench as Fair takes over games and the home faithful roars.
“Does anything she does surprise me? Absolutely not,” Legette-Jack said. “I’ve seen her score 30 in the fourth quarter one time. I’ve seen her get eight steals. I laugh at her defense all the time because I’m like, you need to pick up your defense, and then she wins All-ACC Defensive Team. It’s just pure joy. But no surprises.”
In a wild ACC that is competitive top-to-bottom, nothing should be that surprising. There will be jostling around the standings for the next month until the ACC tournament. The titles are completely up for grabs. Potentially nine teams could hear their name called on Selection Sunday.
“If we just fight until the last horn sounds,” Fair said, “we’ll see where it gets us.”