Mangakahia leads SU women to first-round victory over Fordham

Mangakahia leads SU women to first-round victory over Fordham

Tiana Mangakahia finished with 21 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.
Published: March 24, 2019
SU WBB vs Fordham
Syracuse guard Tiana Mangakahia lays the ball up on a fast break opportunity.

The 3-seeded Syracuse women’s basketball team took care of business Saturday afternoon by defeating the 14-seed Fordham Rams, 70 to 49. This 21-point win in the Carrier Dome is the first step for the Orange in pursuit of their first National Championship.

The final score doesn’t tell the full story of how challenging this game was for Syracuse; the first quarter had Fordham’s fingerprints all over it. From the opening tip, the Rams created multiple second-chance opportunities on offense by diving for loose balls, being active on the offensive boards and forcing four turnovers in the first quarter. The Orange came out a little rusty after a couple of weeks off, and the Rams capitalized on it. After the first quarter, the Rams led 15-14.

“I knew we would be sluggish coming into this game, and you kind of roll the dice. We haven’t played in two weeks,” Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said.

The Orange answered the early surge from the Rams with a 14-0 run to start the second quarter. Syracuse star point guard Tiana Mangakahia was in attack mode all afternoon, tallying 21 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and five steals. Her aggressive play created opportunities for all of her teammates, including junior guard Gabrielle Cooper who scored 13 points.

SU WBB vs Fordham
Syracuse guard Gabrielle Cooper is fouled by Fordham's Mary Goulding as she puts up a shot.

“We just really had to shake the rust off, really lock in to what we normally do and play within ourselves,” Cooper said.

Syracuse shot 64 percent from three-point land Saturday afternoon, but that wasn’t the real story of the game. The Orange used their size and athleticism to drive inside and dominate the paint.

“That’s what’s been really good about this second half of the season,” Hillsman said. “We’re winning games by attacking the rim and playing in the paint.”

The Orange finished the regular season with a 25-8 record, which earned them the opportunity to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament in the Carrier Dome. The home crowd undoubtedly played a role throughout this game.

“I really appreciate everyone for coming out and supporting us,” Mangakahia said. “You know we don’t get that often, and knowing we matter to them — it’s a good feeling.”

Hillsman was proud of his team’s performance, but he knows they have to make adjustments if they want to make a deep run into the tournament.

“We were helping way too much off of dribble penetration, and they did a very good job of attacking gaps and raising up out of the corner, and we weren’t staying home,” Hillsman said.

Monday night, the Orange continue their quest for a national title against 6-seed South Dakota State in the Carrier Dome. The Jackrabbits advanced to the second round after defeating Quinnipiac 76-65 earlier Saturday afternoon.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.