SU women’s basketball defends Dome with 92-75 win over Boston College

SU WBB defends Dome, defeats BC 92-75

Tiana Mangakahia guides the Orange to an 8-0 at-home record with transition assists and timely baskets.
Published: February 25, 2021
NCAA Womens Basketball: Boston College at Syracuse
Syracuse Orange guard Tiana Mangakahia (4) brings the ball up court against the Boston College Eagles during the first quarter at the Carrier Dome on February 25, 2021.

Back in the Dome for the first time since Feb. 4, the Syracuse women’s basketball team extended their perfect home record to 8-0 with a 92-75 victory over the visiting Boston College Eagles. Tiana Mangakahia helped lead the way with 19 points and seven assists to give the Orange their first victory since Feb. 7.

A string of conference losses and postponements stalled the Orange’s season, but following a 76-68 loss to Virginia Tech on Sunday, Syracuse came out ready to defend their home court. As part of ACC Unity Week for winter sports and in preparation for Sunday’s Play4Kay game, SU wore matching pink shoes and were sporting white jerseys with pink accents instead of their usual orange. Boston College was fully clad in pink jerseys for the game.

Ahead of the Play4Kay game, head coach Quentin Hillsman spoke about the renewed importance of the game with Mangakahia back on the team. She spoke in the press conference about her motivation for the Play4Kay game as it is also her final home game.

“I’m probably going to cry a lot before the warmup,” Mangakahia said. “I’ll probably cry a lot because of everything Syracuse has given me. It’s my last game in the Dome ever, so I’ll use that [as motivation].”

Kamilla Cardoso won the opening tip for SU and quickly found herself alone for an easy basket under the rim. The Orange used their size to their advantage and jumped out to a 10-0 lead before they surrendered their first basket. BC managed to slow the run with a flurry of 3-pointers to cut the lead to 19-16.

Syracuse played the first quarter with a taller lineup and scored 12 points to BC’s four in the paint, but the larger lineup left more space on the perimeter for BC shooters to knock down four threes. The lineup that propelled SU to an early lead also allowed BC back into the game early.

Near the end of the first quarter, Mangakahia took the ball up court in transition and from half court found Cardoso cutting under the basket to draw a foul, extending the SU lead to 20-16 heading into the second quarter.

SU’s dominance in the paint fueled their play in the second quarter. On a pass kicked out from the paint, Mangakahia pump faked the defender before swinging a pass to Emily Engstler for an open three.

On the defensive end, Engstler recorded a chase down block on an Eagles layup before receiving another bucket courtesy of a Mangakahia dime. Despite coming off the bench, Hillsman praised Engstler’s game as one of the team’s most crucial players.

“[Engstler’s] a first team all-conference type of player,” Hillsman said. “A lot of people put too much stock on starting.”

Offensive fouls at the rim, mostly charges, plagued the large lineup Syracuse employed. In quick succession, the Orange racked up their fourth foul of the quarter with more than five minutes remaining. Cardoso and Digna Strautmane each picked up their second fouls, but the Orange were in control, 36-27.

Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi was critical for the early success of the Orange as she hit all three of her field goals to start the game and assisted on three baskets in the first half, including a three by Priscilla Williams to extend the SU lead to 39-28.

Syracuse entered the locker room with a 43-31 lead at the half, led by 11 points and four steals from Engstler. The Orange topped the leaderboard with 20-6 in points in the paint and 12-3 in points off turnovers.

The Syracuse women’s basketball take on Boston College Feb. 25, 2021.
Syracuse Orange guard Kiara Lewis (23) before the game against Boston College at the Carrier Dome, Feb 25, 2021.

The third quarter went back and forth with each team getting about half of their shots to fall. Mangakahia cut to the basket for a crafty contested layup, and Williams added a euro step layup and a three to put Syracuse up 59-44 halfway through the third.

Both offenses opened up in the third, and the Orange scored 31 in the frame. Strautmane hit a three on Djaldi-Tabdi’s fifth assist of the game, and Djaldi-Tabdi complimented her passing with a spinning post move to shake her defender and finish at the rim.

Mangakahia widened the Orange’s lead to 65-44 on an acrobatic and-one. She was fouled hard, and as she went to the ground, she scooped the ball off the glass with her right hand for the strong layup. ‘Cuse shot 68.8% from the field in the quarter to put the game out of reach at 74-58.

Kiara Lewis notched a team-high 40 minutes for the Orange and tallied 14 points, one of five players in double digits. She missed all her shots from behind the arc but shot well in the midrange and at the basket to provide a scoring punch for Syracuse.

In the fourth, Mangakahia once again converted an and-one as she was bumped driving the lane. Her 19 points and seven assists both led the team, and she had numerous passes that set up the entire offensive flow of the team.

Up 92-73, Mangakahia drew an offensive foul on an inbounds play to force a turnover with two minutes remaining. The Orange defense held and only allowed two more points en route to a 92-75 victory. Syracuse’s 92 points tied their second highest point-total of the season.

Scoring in double digits for the Orange were Mangakahia, Engstler, Williams, Lewis and Strautmane. Williams also led the team with 10 boards to secure a double-double. Engstler credited the Syracuse scoring depth for the team’s victory after the game.

“Everyone played a really great role tonight, whether they played two minutes or 30,” Engstler said.

The Orange never let up in the paint and outscored the Eagles by 26 near the basket. The rebounding margin was 41-37 in favor of ‘Cuse, and Syracuse forced four more turnovers.

With the win, Syracuse moves to 12-6 (9-6 ACC) for the season with a perfect 8-0 record in the Dome. The Orange will be back in action on Sunday, Feb. 28, against No. 2 NC State in the Play4Kay game and senior day.

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is a magazine, news and online graduate student and lead sports producer for The NewsHouse.