Depleted Orange beat buzzer, complete miraculous comeback

Orange beat buzzer, complete miraculous comeback

Kamilla Cardoso lays in game winner to knock off FSU 68-67 in the women's ACC Tournament.
Published: March 5, 2021
Florida State Syracuse ACC Women's Tournament
Syracuse players mob Kamilla Cardoso (14) after she hit the game winning shot at the buzzer to beat Florida State 68-67 in the quarterfinals of the Women's ACC Basketball Tournament.

The Syracuse women’s basketball team advanced in the ACC Tournament following a 68-67 victory at the buzzer against the Florida State Seminoles. Kamilla Cardoso gathered in a last second miss, put the ball back up and beat the buzzer to clinch the win.

After trailing for the entirety of the game, the Orange battled back in the fourth quarter to erase what was earlier a 15-point deficit. In miraculous fashion, Cardoso collected her 13th rebound and 16th point on the deciding put-back layup as the horn sounded.

“Kamilla really grew up today,” head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “That play doesn’t happen if she doesn’t stay in the game. That play was heart and toughness. That’s all that was.”

On the inbounds pass, the ball was fumbled towards the end line, but Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi recovered the ball and flipped it to Kiara Lewis. Lewis air balled a desperation three with the game clock winding down, but Cardoso secured the ball and hurriedly laid it in the basket just as time expired.

Already missing Tiana Mangakahia and the four players suspended from team activities, Taleah Washington, Kiara Fisher, Faith Blackstone and Khamya McNeal, the Orange found themselves further depleted after a horrifying injury in the second quarter.

Early in the game, play was paused for more than 20 minutes after Priscilla Williams attempted to take a charge but was instead called for a block as she collided with an FSU player. Williams hit the ground, but the force of the fall whipped her head back onto the court.

As she laid under the Syracuse basket, medical personnel brought a neck brace and immobilizing stretcher to Williams as the Greensboro Coliseum fell silent. With Williams strapped to the gurney and removed from the court, players had to find the courage and determination to play through the remainder of the game.

Officially, Williams was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation of an upper-body injury. After the game, Hillsman provided information on her condition.

“She’s coherent,” Hillsman said. “She’s happy and cheering that we won the game, so she’s doing well. It was a really scary moment, and to come back in the game that way is really gratifying. This is about surviving and advancing, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Without Williams, SU was left with Lewis as the team’s only guard and five post players. Coming off a 40-minute performance the day before, Lewis was once again tasked with playing the entire contest.

To begin the game, SU allowed FSU to jump ahead 9-0 less than four minutes into the game. Cardoso finally got the Orange on the board with a pair of free throws, and Amaya Finklea-Guity added a pair of jumpers, but the Florida State lead quickly progressed.

As a team, Syracuse only shot 3-of-17 in the first quarter compared to 9-of-16 for Florida State. The Orange were outrebounded 12-9 in the quarter and committed five turnovers to only two assists as a team.

The Seminoles boast the fifth best scoring defense in the ACC and earlier in the season held the Orange to their lowest point total of the season in a 67-52 victory. At the end of one, SU only mustered eight points against the stingy defense.

2021 ACC WomenÕs Basketball Tournament
Syracuse's center Kamilla Cardoso (14) celebrates her team's lead during the 2021 New York Life ACC Women's Basketball Tournament.

In the second, Emily Engstler got her first points of the game on a layup, and Digna Strautmane added the team’s second three of the game to bring the score to 29-20. Engstler added her second assist of the game on a Djaldi-Tabdi layup, and Lewis collected her sixth point of the game rolling to the basket, but the team’s energy was sapped by the injury.

At the half, the Orange found themselves in a 39-27 hole. Bianca Jackson led both teams with 11 points, while the Orange had three players, Strautmane, Lewis and Finklea-Guity, who scored six points apiece.

Syracuse dominated the paint against Boston College, but through two quarters, they trailed in rebounds, points in the paint and blocks. None of the FSU players played the entire half, but Strautmane and Lewis played all 20 minutes for the depleted Orange.

The Orange brought the game back within single digits off an Engstler air ball that found its way into the hands of Cardoso. She took the rebound up through contact, drew the foul and completed the and-one play. Djaldi-Tabdi went to the line on the next possession and hit both free throws to keep the deficit at nine.

The Orange clawed back within six with just over two minutes remaining in the third after Djaldi-Tabdi and Finklea-Guity made field goals in quick succession. After an FSU basket, Strautmane hit her third, and the team’s third, 3-pointer of the game to cut the lead to 53-47.

SU used the third quarter to surge back into the game. Right at the end of the frame, the Seminoles overpassed the ball and Engstler stepped into a lane at half court with seconds remaining. The indecision of FSU was not matched by Engstler as she turned and fired a half-court shot to beat the buzzer, cutting the score to 55-52.

The Orange celebrate after being Florida State on a buzzer beater during the 2021 New York Life ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament.
The Orange celebrate during the 2021 New York Life ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament.

The Orange mustered just eight points in the first but scored 19 in the second and 25 in the third to give the Seminoles a fourth quarter challenge. For the first time since the opening tip, the Orange tied the game to start the fourth on another Engstler three.

Syracuse worked back into the game on a 17-4 run, but a 7-0 run by the Seminoles slowed the comeback. The Orange surged and subsided all fourth quarter long until the final moments of the game.

Djaldi-Tabdi hit a three with just over one minute remaining and drew a foul to give Syracuse the ball down 67-66 with a chance to take the lead. SU would miss, but the defense held up on the other end of the court. Cardoso grabbed a rebound with 15.9 seconds remaining, prompting a Hillsman timeout to advance the ball.

The play drawn up used Cardoso as a decoy, but the ball found her hands after the flubbed inbounds pass, and she became the hero of the game for the Orange. In the postgame press conference, Cardoso explained her emotions following the shot.

“This happened to me one time in high school, but I can’t really describe it,” Cardoso said. “I was just like very happy, and it was unbelievable.”

Syracuse advanced in the tournament with the win and will face No. 1 seeded Louisville in the conference semifinals tomorrow at noon for a chance to go to the conference final Sunday.