Women’s basketball eliminates Virginia from ACC Tournament with hot offense
Women's basketball bests Virginia in second round of conference tourney
GREENSBORO, N.C. — After a hard-fought game, the Syracuse women’s basketball team won against 12-seed Virginia in the second round of the ACC Women’s Tournament, 67-57. Syracuse received a first-round bye for being the fifth seed in the ACC.
“We did a good job of taking care of the ball,” Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “Overall, it was just having some balance and sharing the ball. At this time of year, it’s about winning the game and doing whatever we’ve got to do to get W’s.”
Huge offensive efforts came from Digna Strautmane and Miranda Drummond, as Strautmane put up 14 points and Drummond pulled down six rebounds — four of which were offensive. In the third quarter, Drummond pulled down three offensive boards in a little over a minute to give Syracuse (23-7, 11-5) two second-chance baskets. In the fourth quarter, Tiana Mangakahia missed a three-point shot, but Drummond saved the ball from going out of bounds and got it to Strautmane, who was able to score the bucket for Cuse.
Drummond said one of her main focuses for this game was to box out and get as many rebounds as she could.
“It saves possessions,” Hillsman added. “Those rebounds in games like this mean that we’re playing offense or a minute, and that was critical down the stretch. Those rebounds were huge rebounds, and they really sealed the game.”
While a bucket from Khyasia Caldwell gave Virginia (12-19, 5-11) the lead in the opening minute of the first quarter, the Orange led the rest of the game. With five minutes left in the game, Virginia came within seven points of Syracuse, but jumpers from Mangakahia, Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi and Kiara Lewis sealed the 10-point victory.
Gabby Cooper hit three big shots from beyond the arc for the Orange, giving them the boost they needed to finish the first half strong. Drummond also had three from deep in the first half. Overall, the Orange shot 50 percent in field goals and 42 percent in three-point shots. Virginia struggled with field goals, shooting only 37 percent and 33 percent from deep.
“Early on, they shot the ball extremely well,” Virginia head coach Tina Thompson said. “Their three-point shots definitely put some distance between us and them, but we recovered and we continued to try to get to the things we do well.”
Mangakahia came away with 13 points and six assists but went 4-of-12 in field goals, including two missed three-pointers. Lewis, who’s been a consistent asset for the Orange, was able to step up and finished with 12 points and two assists.
“I know a lot of teams focus more on Tiana, so I think that’s my opportunity to come off the bench and step up,” Lewis said. “Actually, not starting you get to see how the game’s going so I think that’s helped me in the last few months.”
Virginia’s Dominique Toussaint lead the Cavaliers’ scoring in the first half with 10 points but received her fourth foul early in the third quarter, which slowed down the game for Virginia. Jocelyn Willoughby remained a driving force for the Cavaliers, scoring a game-high 19 points.
“Personally, it was kind of difficult to get into a rhythm when you have foul trouble like that,” Toussaint said. “You play a little hesitant, especially on defense, because you never know what the ref’s going to call.”
“We understand that coming into this tournament that it’s the best conference in the country, so we never come into these games thinking they’re going be easy – no matter who we’re playing,” Hillsman said.
The Orange will face 4-seed Miami at 11 a.m. Friday. The winner will advance to the semifinals on Saturday afternoon.