Syracuse women’s basketball dominates on “Play4Kay” day

Syracuse women's basketball dominates on "Play4Kay" night

The team honored breast cancer survivor and teammate Tiana Mangakahia.
Published: February 16, 2020 | Updated: February 17th, 2020 at 11:46 am
Syracuse University's guard, Kiara Lewis, 23, looks to pass the ball to her teammates as Pitt's Gabbie Green (12) and Amber Brown (5) defend during a college basketball game against the University of Pittsburgh on February 20.
Syracuse guard Kiara Lewis (23) looks to pass the ball to her teammates as Pitt's Gabbie Green (12) and Amber Brown (5) defend.

Coming into Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh, Syracuse women’s basketball was already the hottest team on campus. The Orange had won three games in a row, one of them a home upset of No. 5 Louisville, another a road win against North Carolina who leads the ACC in scoring.

A different story was apparent for their opponent, as the Pittsburgh Panthers came to the Dome with only one win since the start of December. The Panthers had already lost to SU 69-51 back in January.

In the first quarter, ‘Cuse picked up right where they left off. The Orange exploded for four three-pointers and 24 points leading 24-12 after quarter one.

It was more of the same for the Orange in the second quarter. SU outscored the Panthers 14-12 through Digna Strautmane’s nine points and seven rebounds. ‘Cuse led 38-24 at the break. Pitt freshman Dayshanette Harris led all scorers with 10 at the half.

During halftime, Syracuse guard and breast cancer survivor Tiana Mangakahia made an address to the crowd thanking the Syracuse faithful for their support during her battle. She was joined by other survivors who were introduced.

 

Syracuse University's guard, Tiana Mangakahia, signs a game pamphlet for a fan after a college basketball game against the University of Pittsburgh. Tiana Mangakahia is a breast cancer survivor and the Syracuse women's basketball team tried to raise awarness about the disease by encouraging fans and players to wear pink during Sunday's basketball game.
SU guard Tiana Mangakahia signs a game pamphlet for a fan after the game. Mangakahia is a breast cancer survivor and the Syracuse women's basketball team raised awareness about the disease by encouraging fans and players to wear pink during Sunday's game.

With Tiana’s support, the Orange and Strautmane didn’t miss a beat in the third quarter. ‘Cuse extended its lead to as large as 26 and Strautmane had nine in the frame. Syracuse led 59-35 with one quarter left to play.

All of Strautmane’s three-pointers came in the third quarter and she says it was because she had her teammates’ support.

“My teammates were encouraging me, yelling to keep shooting,” Strautmane said. “I feel like you can’t make shots if you don’t take any.”

It was smooth sailing in the fourth as the Orange cruised to a 71-53 win.

SU head coach Quentin Hillsman was happy about his team’s offensive performance.

“We got good looks. I thought we did a really good job sharing the ball,” Hillsman said. “We had 15 assists. I thought we had more than that, but obviously we did a really good job sharing the ball.”

Syracuse University's forward, Digna Strautmane, 45, fights for the basketball during a college basketball game against the University of Pittsburgh on February 16, 2020.
SU forward Digna Strautmane fights for the basketball during the game.

Coming off of a 15-rebound performance on Thursday, sophomore guard Emily Engstler had 14 more boards along with five points. Redshirt junior guard Kiara Lewis added to her stellar season by pouring in an additional 19 points for the Orange.

“I thought Digna was fantastic today,” Hillsman said. “The way she scored the ball, and the things Keke (Kiara Lewis) has been doing, and what she has done and obviously Emily (Engstler) with the rebounding.”

Dayshanette Harris finished with 18 points and 7 rebounds, and Amber Brown added 14 points for the Panthers.

 

Syracuse University's guard, Kiara Lewis, 23, pushes past a University of Pittsburgh defender during a college basketball game on February 16, 2020.
SU guard Kiara Lewis drives past Pitt's Gabbie Green during the game.

Despite the winning streak, Lewis isn’t satisfied.

“I think we can be better,” Lewis said. “You want to always be better than what you are, that’s the only way you can be better.”

With the win, the Orange picked up their fourth straight victory and improved to 14-11 on the year and 8-6 in conference play. The Panthers fall to a lowly 4-21 on the season and 1-13 in the ACC. SU is back in action on Thursday when it hosts Clemson.

Avatar for Calvin Christoforo

is a contributor to the NewsHouse.

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Avatar for Calvin Christoforo

is a photographer for The NewsHouse.