Syracuse women’s basketball picks up a 80-57 win over Pittsburgh

SU beats Pitt 80-57

Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi posted a season-high 17 points in the Orange's victory over the Panthers.
Published: January 28, 2021
Jan 28, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi (3) reaches to save a loose ball from going out of bounds against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Syracuse Orange forward Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi (3) reaches to save a loose ball from going out of bounds against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first half at the Carrier Dome.

The Syracuse women’s basketball team looked to break a two-game skid against Pittsburgh tonight, and did just that. They defeated the Panthers 80-57 after another double-double performance by Emily Engstler. The Orange came into the game unranked for the first time this season after two straight losses to #1 Louisville and an overtime loss to Clemson on Sunday.

Syracuse came straight out of the locker room looking to avenge their drop out of the top-25 with a bucket by Priscilla Williams on a feed from Tiana Mangakahia. Back-to-back threes from Kiara Lewis and Williams gave the Orange a quick 8-0 lead.

Off a Pittsburgh timeout, Mangakahia drilled yet another three. The Panthers scored their first points of the game off of a layup by Cynthia Ezeja. Engstler scored her first points off the bench off a shot from the elbow to go up 15-2.

Engstler drew a foul on the next possession after a drive down the lane, and made both free throws. After a few back-and-forth scoring plays between the teams, the reining ACC freshman of the week Kamilla Cardoso scored to put the Orange up 22-7.

A few minutes later, a beautiful half court pass from Mangakahia to Cardoso put the Orange up 24-13. At the end of the first quarter, the Orange retained a comfortable 11 point lead, 26-15.

The first points of a season-high game for redshirt junior Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi came off a turnaround jumper early in the second quarter. The Orange came out of the break in a half-court press, instead of the full-court press they were running in the first quarter.

Another jumper by Djaldi-Tabdi gave the Orange a 11-point lead but both teams were quiet after that. Neither team scored for about 3-and-a-half minutes, but the silence was broken by a pair of Lewis free throws and one from Cardoso to go up, 31-17.

A wide open three by Taleah Washington in her first game since December 20th gave the Orange a 14-point lead, 35-21. The Panthers struggled to score the rest of the quarter, while Lewis scored the last points of the half on a breakaway layup.

At halftime the Orange had a steady lead, 41-26. In the half Engstler grabbed her 500th career rebound and totaled six. Cardoso led the way with seven points, but eight different Orange scored in the first 20 minutes of play.

Jan 28, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange guard Emily Engstler (21) shoots the ball as Pittsburgh Panthers forward Cynthia Ezeja (right) defends during the first half at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Syracuse Orange guard Emily Engstler (21) shoots the ball as Pittsburgh Panthers forward Cynthia Ezeja (right) defends during the first half at the Carrier Dome.

Syracuse’s defense gave Pittsburgh trouble as well, as their leading scorers Dayshanette Harris and Jayla Everett only had two points a piece.

In the third quarter, though, the Orange started out cold. Harris scored on back-to-back drives for the Panthers to dwindle the Syracuse lead to 11. On a pair of missed free throws by Cardoso, Harris scored another layup at the other end to make it 41-32.

A few plays later, Engstler swats a ball into the stands for her 100th career block and gives the Orange a momentum shift. The forward Djaldi-Tabdi hit a three from the corner, but Pitt responded with back-to-back baskets. Djaldi-Tabdi responded again by grabbing a rebound off a Mangakahia miss to retain the 48-36 lead.

After free throws and another basket by the Panthers, Djaldi-Tabdi hit another three to put the Orange up by 10 again, 53-43. Gabbie Green responded with a pair of free throws after Mangakahia’s third foul, to put the Panthers within eight at the end of the third quarter.

Harris continued her strong second half for the Panthers, scoring the first two points of the fourth to put her team within six. Amber Brown hit two free throws after Cardoso’s third foul to put the Panthers within four, 53-49.

Another huge three by Djaldi-Tabdi gave the Orange the energy they were looking for. The Panthers came within five, but that was the closest they would get in the fourth quarter.

Following a media timeout, the Orange took control. Off of an inbounds pass, Cardoso scored a quick bucket and Williams scored again off a Lewis steal. Back-to-back Williams and Engstler three’s to go back up fifteen in less than two minutes.

Following a Panthers timeout, the Orange continued their dominant run. A couple of Lewis baskets and another three by Engstler ended the 20-2 run to end the game. The Orange got the win, 80-57.

Engstler picked up her fifth double-double of the season with 12 points and 13 rebounds. Djaldi-Tabdi chalked up 17 points for a career high.

After the game, Head Coach Quentin Hillsman had a lot to say about his team’s win. “We started the game with a 17-2 run, and ended the game with a 20-2 run,” Hillsman said. “That’s what it is, first four, last four.”

He also issued a challenge for his team. “I told our players if we don’t win this game, the season’s over,” he said. “We’re going to the NIT, period.”

The Orange responded to Hillsman’s message, and will continue their long stretch of games with a matchup against Notre Dame Sunday afternoon. Tip-off is at 11 a.m. in the Dome.

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is a graduate student in the Broadcast and Digital Journalism program.