Notre Dame ends Orange women’s tournament run

Irish end SU women's basketball's tournament run

Two Notre Dame players finished with double-doubles
Published: March 9, 2019
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Syracuse's Gabby Cooper struggles to put up a shot over Notre Dame's Danielle Patterson (left) and Mikayla Vaughn (right).

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Fighting Irish bested the Syracuse women’s basketball team 91-66 Saturday afternoon in the semifinal round of the ACC Women’s Tournament.

“Obviously it wasn’t the outcome that we wanted, but you’re playing against a great team in this conference,” Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “I’m just really proud of our kids for coming in, competing and winning two games in this tournament. This is the toughest tournament in the country.”

The Orange struggled to find their rhythm early on, trailing by 10 at the end of the first quarter and 13 at the half.

Despite two big wins over Virginia on Thursday and Miami on Friday, Notre Dame’s defense contained Syracuse inside and didn’t allow the Orange many opportunities to score in the paint. On the other end of the court, Syracuse’s defense fell apart early and allowed the Irish to make shots from the perimeter and underneath the basket. Notre Dame finished with 50 points in the paint, but Syracuse could only put up 28.

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Syracuse's Kiara Lewis tries to shoot the ball over Notre Dame defender Brianna Turner.

Offensively, the Orange had a hard time keeping control of the ball. The Irish’s tough defense forced 13 turnovers, many of which came from the Orange trying to get passes inside.

On top of that, Syracuse’s shots just wouldn’t fall. In the first half, they hit six three pointers — three from Miranda Drummond, two from Digna Strautmane and one from Gabby Cooper — but in the second half, they only added two three-point shots from Cooper to their stat sheet.

“We missed a lot of shots,” Hillsman said. “You can’t miss shots and make mistakes against a team like Notre Dame.”

Overall, the Orange shot 36.4 percent in field goals, while Notre Dame seemed to be draining endless shots, shooting 46.6 percent in field goals. Two Fighting Irish players — Jackie Young and Jessica Shepard — came away with double-doubles. Young had a game-high 18 points and 13 rebounds. Tiana Mangakahia led the Orange in scoring with 14 points, followed by 12 from Cooper.

“I talked about we need to shoot, 40, 40-something-odd percent to win this game, and we had 30 percent again,” Hillsman said. “We can’t shoot the ball like that against a really good team like this.”

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Syracuse's Amaya Finklea-Guity and Notre Dame's Brianna Turner go head-to-head in the tipoff.

This loss to the Irish comes less than two weeks after Notre Dame defeated Syracuse by 30 points in the Carrier Dome on Feb. 25.

Since Notre Dame joined the ACC in late 2013, the women’s basketball team has won the last four of five conference tournament titles. Their first loss came last year when they fell to Louisville in the championship game.

“I thought our kids really played hard and at the end of the day: These are my players, these are my kids and this is my program and I’m gonna ride with my team,” Hillsman said. “I’m not even gonna count them out, it is what it is.

“We know that we can play with anybody. We never thought that we couldn’t, so that’s just a viewpoint for us.”