SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman has brought the Orange women to the cusp of the elite since he took over eight years ago. They're just not quite there yet.
With a chance for a signature win on Thursday night, Syracuse made a flurry of 3-pointers against No. 3 Duke, but the Blue Devils weren't fazed by an early deficit and methodically came back for a convincing 86-53 victory.
It was the third straight loss for Syracuse (11-4, 0-2) and spoiled the Orange's first home game in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"''We're never going into a game thinking we can't win. We've got to find a way when we have a chance to play great teams to play hard, be competitive and win," Hillsman said. "Games like this are program-changing wins. We had a big opportunity tonight and we didn't take advantage of it. It's my responsibility. It's all on me."
Syracuse hit four 3-pointers in the first few minutes and gained a seven-point lead. Then the shots stopped falling, the Blue Devils kept attacking, and the game slipped away.
Outscored 43-34 in the first, the Orange caved in the second as Duke matched its first half while holding Syracuse to 19 points on 6-of-32 shooting. The Orange finished 8 of 38 from behind the arc as Brianna Butler finished 4 of 12 and La'Shay Taft 1 of 13.
"I don't feel overmatched. I think we have the talent," Hillsman said. "It's got to be about effort. I'm looking at the 3s we took and I thought they were good shots. They were open, and they were taken by the right two people."
Tricia Liston had 20 points and eight rebounds to lead six players in double figures for Duke (15-1, 2-0), which has beaten four ranked opponents this season— California, Purdue, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.
Elizabeth Williams added 14 points and 11 rebounds for Duke, whose only loss was to top-ranked UConn 83-61 in December. Alexis Jones had 13 points and seven assists for the Blue Devils. Williams blocked four shots, extending her streak of at least one block in 85 straight games.
Syracuse dropped out of the poll this week after consecutive losses to No. 23 Arizona State and North Carolina State, now ranked No. 20.