Syracuse Outlasts Bucknell in Djaldi-Tabdi’s Career Night

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)
Sunday, Nov 18, 2018 at 6:28 pm by Sports Editor

By A.J. Fabbri

Women’s Basketball Reporter

SYRACUSE, NY–With just a six-point lead headed into the final 10 minutes of Syracuse’s contest with a pesky Bucknell squad, SU head coach Quentin Hillsman turned to redshirt freshman Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi playing in just her fourth career game.

The 6-foot-2 French native went to work down low to start the fourth quarter. On back-to-back possessions, Djaldi-Tabdi coasted through defenders en route to easy layups, extending SU’s lead from six to ten.

With a career-high 19 points, Djaldi-Tabdi led No. 18 Syracuse (3-1, 0-0 Atlantic Coast) to a 70-56 victory over Bucknell (2-2, 0-0 Patriot). While SU pulled away with a 14-point victory, the Bison certainly gave the Orange fits.

Picked to win their respective conference in preseason polls, Bucknell used the three ball in spurts to keep themselves in it. SU led by 11 in the second quarter, threatening to put the game away early. The Bison eventually cut the lead to two after a 9-0 run sparked by a Kyi English three. The run was exacerbated by five Orange turnovers.

Miranda Drummond stopped the bleeding with a four-point play after being fouled on a three-point shot to beat the first half buzzer.  Bucknell even took a one point lead with four minutes left in the third after Abby Kapp and Ally Johnson knocked back to back deep balls.

But Djaldi-Tabdi immediately answered back to retake the lead, pushing any panic to the wayside for the Orange. The bucket settled down what seemed to be a white-knuckled Orange bench, as SU outscored Bucknell 27-14 from that bucket on.

With an eight point lead and six minutes remaining, Tiana Mangakahia snatched an errant Bison jumper and promptly drained a three-pointer right in front of the Orange bench. As the Syracuse reserves jumped up to celebrate, a sense of relief washed over the face of Quentin Hillsman. The dagger put the Orange up 11, and they cruised to the finish line.

Mangakahia was quiet for most of the first three quarters, but finished with a strong staline of 13 points, two assists and two rebounds. Djaldi-Tabdi’s 19 points were a new career high, which she coupled with eight rebounds. The two did combine for 11 of the team’s 24 turnovers, the Orange’s bugaboo so far in the onset of the season. SU made up for that on the defensive end, allowing just 13 points off of those turnovers, while also turning Bucknell over 31 times, including eight in the fourth quarter.

SU is now 3-1. The Orange will head south of the border for the holiday, as they head to Mexico for the Cancun Challenge. There, they will take on Kansas State, Princeton and DePaul on November 22, 23, and 24. ┃@armand_john