Syracuse Starts ACC Play with Win Over Clemson

Friday, Jan 04, 2019 at 6:01 pm by Sports Editor

By A.J. Fabbri

CitrusTV Women’s Basketball Reporter

Playing in their first game in 11 days, No. 14 Syracuse (12-2, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) outlasted Clemson (9-5, 0-1 Atlantic Coast) 84-75 on the road Thursday night. As per usual, SU head coach Quentin Hillsman’s squad utilized the three ball to improve to 8-0 all time against the Tigers.

With 5:11 remaining in the fourth quarter, Clemson’s Danielle Edwards completed a three point play at the free throw line to cut Syracuse’s lead to just four, the closest the margin had been since 1:40 in the first quarter. On the next possession, Syracuse point guard Tiana Mangakahia knifed to the lane and drew a foul. She made both free throws to push the lead to 71-65. With 4:08 left, Mangakahia came off of a Maeva-Djaldi Tabdi screen to drill a dagger three pointer. The shot gave SU a six point lead, which was enough breathing room for the Orange to capture its first conference victory of the season.

The game was a nail-biter in the final frame, but it didn’t look that way through the first 25 minutes. Senior guards Gabrielle Cooper and Miranda Drummond led an offensive barrage from beyond the arc.

Cooper led all scorers at the halftime break with 15 points on 5-8 shooting, all of her buckets coming from deep. Drummond was 3-4 from downtown with 10 points, including a four point play in the first quarter. SU led by 13 after 20 minutes, looking like they were going to cruise to an easy win at the start of the second half.

Drummond drilled her fourth three ball in SU’s first possession of the second half to push the lead to 49-30. After being held scoreless in the first half, Mangakahia notched back to back deep balls to make it 52-33 with 8:15 left in the third.

From there, Clemson began to whittle SU’s lead to single digits. Clemson went on an 11-2 run immediately after Mangakahia’s three. The Tigers were dominant on the interior, with 28 points in the paint through three quarters to make it just a nine point game after three quarters of play.

The Tigers continued to attack the paint in the final frame, as their first four buckets of the fourth quarter were layups.

Mangakahia’s personal 5-0 run with four minutes left stabilized a six point lead for the Orange. Cooper also drilled a late three to give SU a nine point lead, and Syracuse would not look back.

As a team, Syracuse finished 16-38 (42.1 percent) from downtown. Drummond and Cooper alone combined for 12 of the 16 made three pointers.

Drummond tallied five deep balls to lead SU with 23 points on an efficient 6-9 shooting. Cooper notched a season-high 22 points with seven made three pointers, another season-high.

Mangakahia finished with 13 points, all of them coming in the second half. She added eight assists and five rebounds. Digna Strautmane added 11 points and six rebounds, while Kiara Lewis chipped in seven points.

The Orange will stay on the road now as they take on Virginia Tech in Blacksburg this Sunday at 2 p.m. | @armand_john