No. 12 Syracuse Bested by No. 20 Minnesota on the Road

Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsmanm yells to his players in the fourth quarter of a second round women’s college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament against Albany in Syracuse, N.Y., Sunday, March 20, 2016. Syracuse won 76-59. (AP Photo/Nick Lisi)
Friday, Nov 30, 2018 at 12:32 am by Sports Editor

By A.J. Fabbri

Women’s Basketball Beat Reporter

MINNEAPOLIS, MN– Syracuse’s five-game win streak was snapped on Thursday night as No. 12 Syracuse (6-2, 0-0 Atlantic Coast) fell to No. 20 Minnesota (5-0, 0-0 Big Ten) 72-68 on the road in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. In a final-minute affair, it was the Golden Gophers’ dominance on the offensive boards that proved decisive.

The Orange had no answer for Minnesota’s Taiye Bello, who finished with 20 points and 18 rebounds. The 6-foot-2 junior kept numerous possessions alive, ripping down 10 offensive rebounds. Minnesota outrebounded Syracuse 50-33 for the game.  Bello poured in eight in the first frame as the home team raced out to an early 12 point lead. The Orange played sloppily early on as six turnovers aided in their early deficit.

SU had to play catch up the rest of the way, something it’s accustomed to this season. A Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi turn around jumper sparked a 9-0 Syracuse run that cut the second-quarter deficit from 12 to three. But each time the Orange threatened to retake the lead, the Minnesota defense stemmed the tide.

After flying up and down the court in the first half, Minnesota slowed things down in the second. Kenisha Bell sliced through the Syracuse zone, finishing with 24 points. Bell was instrumental in breaking down the zone. When she wasn’t scoring in the paint, she dished it off to teammates darting through the lane.

Trailing by six in the fourth quarter, Kiara Lewis led the comeback charge for the Orange. Her five-straight points provided a lift in the fourth quarter. Trailing by seven in the fourth, Lewis turned the corner on a screen and drove hard to the hoop. She absorbed a contact from Minnesota’s Jasmine Brunson, and completed the three-point play at the line to cut it to four. The layup was a part of a 9-0 run that gave the Orange a 57-55 lead, their first since 2-0 in the first quarter. SU later extended the lead to six with just 3:30 remaining.

Minnesota’s first year head coach Lindsay Whalen burned a timeout to stop the bleeding, which would lead to a strong answer from the undefeated Golden Gophers. Off the timeout, Bell hit Destiny Pitts for a step-back three. The shot reinvigorated the 4,178 Minnesota faithful.

The shot certainly shifted the momentum in the arena, and seemed to shift momentum on the court as well. From that point on, Minnesota would outscore SU 14-9 until the final buzzer.

The Orange offense seemed to suffer down the stretch, going three for 11 from the field in the game’s final three minutes.

In its lowest scoring total of the season, the Orange actually made more field goals than the Golden Gophers. But SU couldn’t find the stroke from downtown, shooting just 22.7%, going five for 22.

Kiara Lewis led SU with 14 points, three assists, three rebounds and two steals. Miranda Drummond poured in 12 and four rebounds on five for seven from the field. Tiana Mangakahia finished with 11 points and eight assists.

After four straight games away from home, the Orange return to the Carrier Dome for the first time in eleven days. On Sunday, SU will host Towson at 2 p.m. │@armand_john