Syracuse Erases 4th Quarter Deficit to Beat Kansas State in Cancún Challenge
By A.J. Fabbri
Women’s Basketball Reporter
Cancún, Mexico– Trailing by four with eight minutes remaining against Kansas State, Tiana Mangakahia scooped up a loose ball at midcourt. She hesitated at the foul line, and rolled the ball off her fingertips into the hoop while absorbing contact from a Kansas State defender.
The three-point play sparked a 20-2 run that would ultimately propel No. 14 Syracuse (4-1, 0-0 Atlantic Coast) to a 70-61 victory over Kansas State (3-1, 0-0 Big 12).
Each quarter of this Thanksgiving Day matchup told a very different story.
Kansas state notched the first two points of the game, but the Orange fired right back, scoring the next seven. They didn’t look back, as they stretched their lead to as much as nine. But, turnovers prevented SU from extending their lead to double-digits as Kansas State ended the quarter on a four-point run to cut the lead to five.
While SU pushed the pace in the first half, the Orange defense led the charge. K State ended the half shooting 11-35 from the field, and committing nine turnovers. While the Orange was in control throughout the first half, turnovers prevented them from putting the game away. The Orange turned it over fourteen times in the first half, leading to 11 Wildcat points. Emily Engstler stuffed the stat sheet with six points, four rebounds, three steals and two blocks in the first half alone.
SU might have been looking ahead to their turkey dinner in the locker room at the half, as the Wildcats turned a nine-point deficit into a two-point lead heading into the final frame. Kansas State slowed the pace to a crawl, and SU couldn’t establish a rhythm in their half court offense. The Orange turned ice cold in the third frame, going 3 for 11 from the field. SU managed just two fastbreak points as the Wildcats outscored the Orange 17-6 in the third quarter.
After K State extended their lead to four in the final frame, the SU veterans stepped in. A Mangakahia 5-0 mini run gave the Orange a lead, but Miranda Drummond and Gabrielle Cooper provided some breathing room. Mangakahia found Drummond wide open in the corner, who promptly drilled her first three ball of the game to push the lead to four. After back-to-back layups from Engstler and Digna Strautmane, Cooper drilled her first from distance to stretch the lead to nine with five minutes left. Good things come in threes, and Drummond completed the trio of trifectas with four minutes left. SU outscored Kansas State 24-13 in the fourth to solidify the victory.
Mangakahia led all scorers with 18 rebounds, six assists, and four steals. Strautmane finished with a season high 13 points, along with five rebounds. Engstler totaled 10 points and seven rebounds, while freshman Kadiatou Sissoko finished with eight and three,
Next up, Syracuse will face Princeton (1-4, 0-0 Ivy) in game two of the Cancún Challenge on Friday at 1:30 pm.