Syracuse splits UNC series, topping the Tar Heels 88-76
Syracuse tops UNC 88-76
Coming off a big win against Miami on Sunday, the Orange looked to repeat against the Tar Heels, who gave them their only loss of the season on Dec. 17. After their prolonged 28-day break due to COVID protocol, this was only the second game the team has played since Dec. 20 and was the second of four games they will play in a period of eight days.
With Kamilla Cardoso at the line, Syracuse won the tipoff and Tiana Mangakahia brought it down the court. A missed jumper by Cardoso led to a rebound picked up by UNC, who quickly brought it down to the other end. North Carolina’s chance to grab the first points of the game was cut short as Deja Kelly stepped out of bounds and the ball was headed in the other direction once again.
Syracuse grabbed the early 3-0 lead with a three-point bucket from Kiara Lewis. But UNC was quick to respond, getting a quick jumper off to bring them within one. With Syracuse unable to respond, the Tar Heels brought the momentum back to the other end and were able to take their first lead of the game 5-3. Digna Strautmane sunk two for Cuse with 7:44 remaining in the first quarter and added an extra point from the line to bring the Orange to a 6-5 lead.
Syracuse’s defense was strong as Strautmane’s blocked shot ended in a made three for Priscilla Williams, her first of the day following her career-high 26 points against the Hurricanes on Sunday and title of ACC Freshman of the Week.
The Tar Heels were eager to make a three of their own, capitalizing shortly after to bring the score to 9-8. But the Orange offense was ready to reply. Mangakahia grabbed two right after and an additional point from the line to increase Syracuse’s lead to four. Alyssa Ustby then scored two to bring UNC within two.
Mangakahia grabbed another two which was quickly answered by three from UNC. The Tar Heels were on a roll, grabbing another two to elevate them over Syracuse by one point. A turnover from Syracuse led to a breakaway layup by UNC but Lewis brought the Orange back within one and Emily Engstler brought Syracuse to a 18-17 lead with a quick layup.
A travel called on Syracuse didn’t affect Cuse much as UNC was quick to turn the ball over at half court and Kiara Fisher then took it all the way to the basket, increasing the Syracuse lead to 20-17.
A little while later, Syracuse turned the ball over again, resulting in two from the Tar Heels and shortly after, UNC scored two more to force yet another first quarter lead change, 21-20. Cardoso answered by regaining the Syracuse lead, 22-21.
UNC nearly threw it out of bounds, but the ball was kept in play by Kennedy Todd-Williams. A missed shot picked up by Syracuse was brought to half court until Mangakahia was fouled and sent to the line to pick up two more for the Orange. The first quarter ended in a 24-21 Syracuse lead.
The Syracuse/North Carolina rematch was a tough one as the second quarter started off with a missed jumper for UNC and a block in the Syracuse end. Cuse turned the ball over following that play but Engstler was right there to grab the ball back and sink two more for the Orange. However, UNC took that energy and added two of their own to the scoresheet.
Defense was strong for both ends, as it took Williams four tries to sink the layup. Early in the second, Syracuse was up 28-24 and UNC sent Lewis to the line for an additional point. Mangakahia found an open Williams under the basket, launching the ball inside for Williams to finish the two-point basket. UNC answered with one of their own to bring them within four.
Syracuse struggled to score just over halfway through the second quarter, putting up three missed shots. But Engstler finally ended their scoring drought with two from the paint, increasing their lead to 33-27.
Williams stole the ball and passed it back to Mangakahia to slow it down, allowing both teams to reset. A shot clock violation flipped to another UNC possession that ended in a foul on Janelle Bailey and two more points for the Tar Heels. Todd-Williams for UNC was sent to the line by Lewis to pick up another two and cut the Cuse four-point lead in half, 33-31.
The fouls didn’t end for Syracuse as Williams picked up her first, sending Anya Poole to the line to evaporate the Orange’s two-point lead. Strautmane was sent to the line on the other end and the forward was able to grab the lead again with just over two minutes to go in the first half. Failed defensive pressure from Cuse led to an easy two-point basket by UNC and the game was tied at 35.
With seconds left on the shot clock, Lewis sunk two and Syracuse regained the lead. Strautmane sunk three, putting Syracuse up 40-35. UNC ended the half with a last second two-point bucket and Syracuse went into the locker room with the 40-37 lead.
The second half started out with Williams at the free throw line after Stephanie Watts’ foul sent her there. Syracuse increased their first-half lead to 42-37 with the two completed shots.
Fouls were abundant in the beginning of the third quarter as Syracuse sent Watts to the line on the other end and UNC was back within three. Cardoso was fouled on the other end but was unable to add to her made basket. The foul trouble continued as Strautmane picked up her first foul of the game, sending Bailey to the line for UNC and adding another two points to the Tar Heels’ score.
Williams kept the foul train going, sending Kelly to the line after she sunk a three pointer. Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi for Syracuse was finally able to score without a foul and the Orange were back in the lead, 46-45.
However, the Tar Heels were unhappy with that one-point deficit and scored four baskets back-to-back to grab the lead, 53-46. Mangakahia finally broke Syracuse’s scoreless run by sinking a three but the Tar Heels quickly answered with two of their own. Lewis wanted to get in on the action and picked up another two for the Orange, decreasing the UNC lead to four.
Ustby sunk a three pointer to increase the Tar Heels’ lead to seven. Cardoso wasn’t having any of that and dropped another two. Lewis was right behind her, sinking three more and suddenly, the Orange was within two. But UNC added to the scoreboard with another two that went unanswered by Syracuse.
The Orange regained possession following a travel call on UNC but were still unable to cut back the Tar Heels’ lead. North Carolina tallied another two and strengthened their lead to six.
Williams’ missed three resulted in three at the other end, but she didn’t give up, scoring two just seconds later. With under a minute to go in the third, Williams sent Todd-Williams to the line off a made layup, but the shot didn’t go. Engstler grabbed a three to end the third quarter with Syracuse down 61-67.
Lewis started off the scoring for the fourth and final quarter. Back-to-back buckets for Syracuse quickly gave them back the lead, 68-67.
The back-and-forth nature of the game continued as Kelly picked up two for UNC and Mangakahia grabbed three for the Orange. Cardoso added to the lead with a quick layup under the basket but the Tar Heels answered from outside of the arc. Lewis added three for Cuse, bringing the score to 76-72 with 6:34 to go.
Two more from Cardoso brought the Orange to a six-point lead that was brought down to four by Ustby and elevated once again by Lewis who grabbed another two. Ustby landed another jumper and brought the total to 80-76 halfway through the final 10.
Both Engstler’s jumper and Lewis’ layup were good, and Syracuse was face-to-face with an eight-point advantage over the Tar Heels. It stayed this way for over a minute and a half as both teams were unable to score. The stalemate was broken with four from the line, three by Mangakahia and one by Lewis. With 24 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, UNC was unable to regain any kind of scoring momentum and Syracuse came out on top with the 88-76 win.
Syracuse scored 27 points in the fourth quarter alone and Mangakahia was involved in some way with 24 of them. Additionally, Syracuse had three players in their matchup against the Tar Heels with double doubles – Mangakahia, Engstler and Cardoso – which is the first time the Orange has done this since 2011 in a game against St. Francis. Overall, Mangakahia tallied 19 points and 13 assists, Engstler logged 11 points and 13 rebounds and Cardoso put up 10 points and 16 rebounds. Lewis led the team in points, grabbing 23 and Williams saw 11 points, 9 rebounds and 2 steals in the win.
The Orange’s next tip off is on the road against Louisville on Jan. 21 at 9 p.m.