Syracuse women’s basketball sends South Dakota State packing with opening round win

Syracuse women sends South Dakota St. packing in opening round

Emily Engstler leads the No. 8 Orange to 72-55 victory with 18 points against No. 9 Jackrabbits.
Published: March 21, 2021
Syracuse forward Emily Engstler (21) grabs a rebound
Syracuse's Emily Engstler (21) pulls in the rebound between Boston College's Makayla Dickens (10) and Ally Vantimmeren (12) during the first half of Boston College’s game against Syracuse in the second round of the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Thursday, March 4, 2021.

On March 25, 2019, the buzzer sounded, and No. 3 Syracuse was shocked by No. 6 South Dakota State in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament in the Carrier Dome 75-64. This was the last time the Orange had suited up for an NCAA Tournament game.

Two years later, Syracuse returned in their eighth-straight trip to the yearly NCAA Tournament as a No. 8 seed in the River Walk region and got revenge on No. 9 South Dakota State. The Orange held off the Jackrabbits and pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 72-55 win to advance to the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

Tiana Mangakahia notably returned after missing Syracuse’s ACC Tournament run due to a lower-body injury.

It’s also important to note that Syracuse played tonight’s game with only nine active players. Star freshman Priscilla Williams missed tonight’s game and will likely be out for the entirety of Syracuse’s NCAA Tournament run, having suffered an upper-body injury against Florida State in the Orange’s ACC Tournament campaign.

South Dakota State was without their leading scorer Myah Selland due to a season-ending leg injury in February. In Selland’s absence, Paiton Burckhard stepped up for the Jackrabbits with 17 points.

Emily Engstler (18 points, 12 rebounds) and Digna Strautmane (13 points, 10 rebounds) both shined for the Orange with respective double-doubles. Engstler led the line in scoring for Syracuse and shot 50% from beyond the arc with four three-pointers. Kiara Lewis (14 points), Kamilla Cardoso (12 points) and Mangakahia (11 points) also contributed to the Syracuse offense, each scoring over ten points.

Syracuse came out fired up, looking to right previous wrongs. The Orange immediately implemented their trademark full press and went on an 8-0 run within the first three minutes of the first quarter. However, the press began to sputter halfway through the first quarter, which allowed South Dakota State to make its way back into the game.

Despite leading by as much as nine points, Syracuse only led by four as the first quarter ended 21-17.

The pace of the game slowed down in the second quarter, with three media timeouts in the span of four minutes as Syracuse’s Amaya Finklea-Guity took an elbow from South Dakota’s Haley Greer to the nose and had to be treated on the sideline. Finklea-Guity came out of the game at that time, but she returned a few minutes later.

The second quarter saw Syracuse force several turnovers, but the Orange were unable to convert them into points. It wasn’t until the end of the quarter that the Orange went on a 12-3 run to finish the half. Having carved a six-point lead for themselves, Syracuse led South Dakota State 37-31 at halftime.

Mangakahia opened up the scoring after the break with a quick layup, but afterwards, South Dakota State took complete control of the third quarter. At one point, the Jackrabbits went on a 9-1 tear that was only halted by a Lewis 3-pointer. Even then, the Orange only scored 13 points in the third — their lowest-scoring quarter of the night. The quarter ended with a layup from Greer and Syracuse hanging onto a two-point lead, 50-48.

Despite only shooting 36.8% collectively throughout the game, Syracuse staved off South Dakota’s impressive run in the third quarter and cemented the victory in the final ten minutes. Engstler opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back threes to extend Syracuse’s lead at the time from two to eight points.

Syracuse continued to pile on the pressure and extended their lead even further. South Dakota State attempted to match their same intensity from the third quarter, but the fatal sequence of play for the Jackrabbits came when a foul by Greer off an inbound ball gave Syracuse the ball back right after scoring.

Cardoso used her size advantage to get a layup and put the Orange up by seven, 59-52. Two possessions later, Lewis came up with a steal at midcourt that resulted in Mangakahia scoring to put Syracuse up by nine points.

Fatigue was settling in for South Dakota State and could not keep up with Syracuse any longer. With still over three minutes left in the game, the Orange were already on a 15-4 fourth-quarter run that ultimately extended to a 17-point victory.

Syracuse women’s basketball is still dancing and got their revenge. The Orange will face No. 1 UConn, who beat No. 16 High Point 102-59, in the second round.