Duke dominates in Orange’s worst loss of the season

SU Women's hoops suffers worst defeat of the season

Kiara Lewis and Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi lead SU's scoring, but it's not enough to match the Blue Devils.
Published: January 23, 2020
Forward Leaonna Odom, 5, breaks through Syracuse's defense despite Orange Forward Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi's best efforts during the game against Duke.
Duke forward Leaonna Odom shoots over SU forward Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi Thursday in the Carrier Dome.

After dominating Pittsburgh on the road, Syracuse returned to the Carrier Dome looking for a significant conference win in front of the Orange faithful. But the Duke Blue Devils had other ideas as the ACC opponent put on a dominating performance in a 88-58 win.

“The good thing about life is that you have the chance to make decisions,” SU coach Quentin Hillsman said after the game about his team’s competitiveness and effort. “We as a team have to make some decisions.”

The Blue Devils exposed SU’s lack of effort as they came out flying in the first half, outscoring the Orange 14-0 in transition points and dominating both quarters from inside the paint and behind the arc. Duke shot 75% from distance. That success on the perimeter came in large part from Mikayla Boykin, a redshirt freshman. Boykin drilled five of five triples off the bench. On the other hand, Syracuse’s struggles were a combination of missed shots and turning the ball over early for open layups.

The Orange led for all of 42 seconds and never recovered after falling behind by 21 at the halftime break. In the second half, SU continued to struggle on the defensive side, surrendering 22 points in the third quarter and a plethora of second chance opportunities.

“We played unsettled defense the entire game,” Hillsman said. “We got to find a way to get back on defense in unsettl[ing] situations and still be able to play more aggressively in the half-court … creating pressure on the ball and not giving teams open looks.”

Syracuse Orange Head Coach Quentin HIllsman displays frustration as the Blue Devils take an early lead an maintain a strong defense into the third quarter.
Syracuse head coach Quentin HIllsman displays frustration in the third quarter Thursday as Duke outperformed his squad at the Carrier Dome.

As a whole, the main pitfalls for Syracuse included their poor zone defense and an abysmal shooting night. SU allowed three Blue Devils to score 15 or more points and gave up a season-high in points in regulation. The Orange shot 33% from the field and 17% from the three-point arc as well. But Syracuse stuck to its game plan.

“I’m never going to stop, either we’re going to get it figured out our way or we’re going to have more games like this because I’m not going to back down on playing the way that we need to play to be successful,” Hillsman said. “We’re going to get it fixed, clean it up, and continue to play this way,”

Although the two-three zone gives up close to 70 points per game and the Orange either live or die by the three, Coach Q turned down any possibility of his team changing their playstyle. Gabrielle Cooper and Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi reiterated their coaches’ comments.

“We don’t just come out and get stops, we play in the ACC, we play in the best conference in the country, teams are not just going to throw the ball away,” Cooper said. “We have to make a commitment to running our plays and doing things the correct way, the way we’re supposed to do it at Syracuse.

“It’s on us.”

SU redshirt sophomore Maeve Djaldi-Tabdi focused on the word discipline, stating that “Coach does not have to tell us to get up to [the shooter] when she has the ball. We have to see that.” A lack of competitiveness, effort, and discipline suffocated the Orange in the end as they picked up their ninth loss on the season.

The Dome may have seemed a bit more full Thursday night as SU’s Student Association offered 450 ticket vouchers that could be redeemed for a sing ticket for the men’s showdown with No. 8 Duke on Feb. 1.

“The great part about [basketball] is that we got a game on Sunday, so we got to make a decision, are we going to come back out and play urgent and play hard, or are we going to let this game drag into another game,” Hillsman said. “My charge moving forward is to find some consistency in every game, whether its making shots, whether it’s our effort, whether it’s our scheme.”

The Orange (9-9, 3-4) travel to North Carolina to face the Wake Forest Demon Deacons on Sunday.