Women’s basketball advances to ACC semifinals after win over Miami

SU women advance to ACC semifinals with win over Miami

Five players scored in double digits for the Orange to beat the higher-seeded Hurricanes 92-85.
Published: March 8, 2019
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Tiana Mangakahia drives to the basket while being defended by Miami’s Taylor Mason.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — A pair of threes by Syracuse’s Miranda Drummond helped fend off Miami’s fourth-quarter surge to upset the higher-seeded Hurricanes 92-85 in the second round of the ACC Women’s Tournament on Friday.

“Our best players stepped up today,” Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “They all played well. We could talk about five, six different players in this game. We knew we had to win the game.”

While Syracuse had led from the second quarter on, a basket from Miami’s Beatrice Mompremier early in the fourth quarter gave the Hurricanes their first lead in a while. Drummond’s two three’s put the Orange back in the lead, but Miami remained close behind.

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Miranda Drummond puts up a three-point shot over Miami's Kelsey Marshall.

With less than a minute left, the Hurricanes trailed only by eight points. A series of six fouls from the Hurricanes put Tiana Mangakahia at the stripe for six shots, of which she made five. Drummond also sank two of her own to lock in the 92-85 win.

Drummond, who sat out the regular season game against Miami with a back injury, knocked down 19 points, 12 of which came from three-point shots.

Miami started off hot with a 7-2 run in the first minutes of the game to take an early lead. Mangakahia tried to keep up and scored the Orange’s first eight points. A big problem in the first quarter for Syracuse was offensive rebounding — one of their strong suits in Thursday’s contest against Virginia. The Orange ended the first quarter with only seven total rebounds, while the Hurricanes pulled down 10 defensive boards alone.

Stealing possessions from the Orange gave Miami perfect opportunities to capitalize and score buckets. By the end of the first quarter, the Hurricanes had a 21-19 lead over ‘Cuse.

But the second quarter is when things got interesting.

A back-to-back jumper/three-point shot combination for Kiara Lewis gave Syracuse five points and control of the game, 23-21. About four minutes later, Gabby Cooper hit a three for the Orange and put them up six points over Miami. What seemed to be endless buckets from deep for Syracuse — nine in the first 20 minutes — gave the Orange a dominant 50-37 lead at the half.

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Syracuse's Gabby Cooper tries to block a pass from Laura Cornelius.

“Our interior defense really buckled down in that second quarter and did an amazing job in the post,” Hillsman said. “More importantly, they just didn’t let them score the ball around the rim. They were making them take tough two’s and they were missing shots, and we were getting rebounds and running in transition.”

Miami outscored Syracuse 25-17 in the third quarter and crept back on top with Mompremier’s basket. A 9-3 run from the Orange, largely due to two three-point shots from Drummond, put Syracuse up five points and Miami didn’t lead again.

“Tiana did a good job of attacking the paint or finding shooters on the wing,” Hillsman said. “Twenty-five [points] and 13 [assists] and four turnovers in 39 minutes — those are just pro numbers.”

The difference in this game was the second quarter. Without that 13-point cushion going into the second half, there’s little doubt the Hurricanes could have prevailed. Through persistent three-point shooting (the team finished with 14 threes), Mangakahia getting to the basket as often as she could and forcing Miami turnovers, Syracuse was able to knock Miami out of the tournament. Overall, the Orange finished with eight turnovers compared to the Hurricanes’ 15.

“We wanted to put the ball in the basket so we could play defense that we could call, not playing against an unsettled floor the entire game,” Hillsman said.

Syracuse finished with five players in double-digit scoring: Mangakahia with 25, Drummond with 19, Digna Strautmane and Cooper with 15 and Lewis with 10.