Late free throws save SU women from another ACC loss

Late free throws save SU women from another ACC loss

Tiana Mangakahia led the Orange with 16 points and 14 assists.
Published: January 31, 2019
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Tiana Mangakahia looks to pass the ball to one of her teammates. Mangakahia finished with 14 assists in the win over Virginia.

Some clutch free throws from Tiana Mangakahia and Digna Strautmane gave the Orange a tight 72-68 win against the Virginia Cavaliers after an intense back-and-forth matchup.

With less than two minutes left in regulation, Virginia’s Jocelyn Willoughby sank a lay-up to tie the teams at 68 and give the Cavaliers momentum going into the final minutes. After late fouls from Virginia put Mangakahia and Strautmane at the stripe, the Orange’s leading scorers sealed the victory with four good free throws.

The Orange jumped out to a five-point lead within the first minute of the game. This fast start was led by Mangakahia who had a three and multiple assists within the first three minutes.

Mangakahia was creating chances for her teammates to take open shots from behind the arc and finished with six assists in the first quarter. Syracuse maintained the lead through the majority of the first ten minutes, but the Cavaliers kept the score close and tied the game late in the quarter. Two back-to-back layups from Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi gave the Orange a 22-19 lead at the end of the first quarter.

To start the second quarter, Syracuse fell behind by three but were able to tie the game up after a three-pointer from Kadiatou Sissoko. She continued to have an impact on the floor, scoring all of the team’s points in the first half of the quarter and giving the Orange the lead.

The half ended with a huge defensive effort by Gabrielle Cooper, who blocked the last Virginia pass, resulting in a turnover as time expired. Mangakahia continued her effective passing, leading the game with eight assists in the first half. Even though Sissoko had a breakout quarter, the Cavaliers still managed to stick around only trailing by five at halftime, 35-30.

The third quarter started off with a bang after a three-pointer from Cooper. Mangakahia continued giving her teammates opportunities in the third quarter. She had an impressive behind-the-back pass that led to a three from Miranda Drummond to extend the Orange lead. Behind Drummond’s hot hand, Syracuse was able to keep the lead, but Virginia would not go away. The Cavaliers outscored the Orange in the third quarter after a 21-20 run, but Syracuse squeezed out a four-point lead going into the fourth quarter.

Virginia’s persistence kept the game close. The Cavaliers quickly cut the Orange lead down to three after Syracuse was looking to pull away. But Mangakahia and Straumane’s shots kept the Orange in it and gave them the game.

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Digna Strautmane tries to put the ball up while being guarded by three Virginia defenders.

Mangakahia finished with a double-double: 16 points and 14 assists. Another key contributor was Strautmane with 14 points. She was a factor inside the paint and from behind the arc, hitting 2 of 3. Freshman Sissoko tied her career-high with nine points and showed up in vital possessions. Sissoko looked to finally get her groove back after sustaining a knee injury against Princeton on Nov. 23.

Syracuse Head Coach Quentin Hillsman said she is “playing with confidence,” and Sissoko said she felt good on the court.

The next game for Syracuse is against No. 3 Louisville who took down the women’s basketball powerhouse UConn at home tonight.

A victory over a leading team in the ACC would certainly be a statement win. The Orange look to make that statement on Thursday at 7 p.m.