Syracuse women’s basketball soars past Bucknell at the Dome

SU women's basketball soars past Bucknell

Redshirt freshman forward Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi scored a season-high 19 points.
Published: November 18, 2018 | Updated: November 26th, 2018 at 12:45 pm

The No. 18 Syracuse women’s basketball team took down Bucknell, 70-56, this afternoon at the Carrier Dome in their first matchup against the Bison.

In the first quarter, both teams struggled to keep the lead. It seemed as though each time Syracuse made a shot, Bucknell would sink one shortly after. The Syracuse defense came out swinging in the beginning of the game, forcing 9 turnovers from the Bison.

“This game was a bit of a grinder,” Syracuse Head Coach Quentin Hillsman said in a post-game press conference. “We knew coming in here it would be a tough game. We didn’t expect anything different.”

In the second quarter, the Orange started full-court pressing Bucknell in order to force more turnovers — but Syracuse actually handed over 9 turnovers themselves, while the Bison gave up 8. The second quarter almost seemed like another team was playing for the Orange — between the turnovers and the general lack of rebounds due to balls falling through players’ hands…this was a bit of a mess to watch.

“We weren’t playing with poise,” junior guard Tiana Mangakahia said. “We were rushing things, we were throwing the ball away — silly turnovers, really — things that we can control and that we could control. I think looking forward we need to work on that, just staying composed and letting things come to us instead of forcing things.”

That’s not to say there weren’t good moments, though. Junior guard Gabrielle Cooper had a beautiful around the world lay-up, redshirt senior forward Miranda Drummond had a great four-point power play at the end of the half after sinking a three and getting fouled in the process. Not to mention, freshman Emily Engstler faked out her defender with a pump, then dribbled along the baseline to pave the way for a nice, easy lay-up.

“I think it’s always good to have a last shot,” Drummond said. “It’s a good feeling, especially when they just made a shot before that to almost tie the game or have one point ahead of us.”

Mangakahia agreed and said last-second shots like Drummond’s help the team continue into the next quarter.

“You’re in a better mood, happier, you’re excited,” Mangakahia said. “It definitely helps.”

The second half of the game was much better, with the Orange taking their largest lead in the fourth quarter, 16-8. By the end of the third, redshirt freshman forward Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi had scored 11 points — and then added another 8 in the fourth quarter for a season-high 19 points for the redshirt freshman.

The Bison went 5-8 in threes in the third quarter, throwing off the Orange. In order to get back into the game, Syracuse Head Coach Quentin Hillsman said he told his girls to make sure they stopped Bucknell from shooting threes. This strategy definitely worked, as the Bison went 0 for 8 of their three-point shots in the last quarter.

“It really gave us some problems — their offense — because you see the way they shot the ball,” Hillsman said. “I thought late in the game, we were able to match it up and get man-to-man and take some of those threes away, and that was key for us.”

One player who really stood out this game was Djaldi-Tabdi. In the season opener against North Dakota, she lacked the confidence and the ability to make herself big to get the ball on the post and score. Today, she was always calling for the ball at the post and easily stepped back into her opponents to get the hook shot over top of them.

“She’s very tough when we get her at the rim and get her posting hard, and that’s the most important thing for us to try to get her deep-posted at the mid-line,” Hillsman said. “When she ducks in there and she catches it, she’s very effective.”

The Orange will head to Mexico later in the week for the Cancun Challenge, where they’ll play Kansas State, Princeton and No. 15 DePaul.

Avatar for Dakota Palmer

is a lead sports producer for The NewsHouse.