Syracuse Takes Care of Business Down in Pittsburgh, Win 69-51
By Chris Sacchi
Syracuse Women’s Basketball Beat Reporter
PITTSBURGH, PA – Traveling to play an opponent on the road is never easy, no matter the sport. Yet, for Syracuse, a matchup down in Pittsburgh against the ACC Rival Panthers was an oppurtunity to get back on track.
The Orange (9-8, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) snapped a two-game losing streak, defeating host Pittsburgh (3-14, 0-6 ACC) 69-51 on Sunday afternoon, extending the Panthers’ losing streak to ten straight. Syracuse benefitted from a whopping 26 Pittsburgh turnovers to ensure a needed victory.
While SU cruised for most of the second half, early on it looked like anyone’s game. Pittsburgh held a 22-17 lead after the first quarter, led by Junior guard Gabbie Green who scored ten of her team’s first 13 points. Overall, Pittsburgh shot eight of 14 in the first quarter and four of six from three, as the SU defense looked a step slow on closeouts and rotations.
Also interesting in the first quarter was Pitt’s game plan on Kiara Lewis. Lewis has caused problems for defenses all season, entering with a scoring average of 17.8 points per game and a National Player of the Week title under her belt. Head Coach Lance White and Co. decided to sag off the 28% three point shooter, cutting off her driving lanes but giving her ample room to fire from beyond the arc. Lewis hit only one of five threes in the first period, including a miss off the side of the backboard, and finished the game one for eight.
The second quarter is when Syracuse began to dominate, outscoring the opponent 27-11 on the way to a 44-33 halftime lead. SU came out for the second half with increased intensity, especially on defense. Coach Quentin Hillsman’s press defense, which has been a staple all year, sped things up for a young Pittsburgh team that could not seem to keep up; Pitt coughed the ball up seven times in that second period. When the Panthers were able to get a shot off, the team connected on only two of ten from the field and zero for five on threes, a stark contrast from the first quarter.
The SU defense continued to lock down in the second half, holding the Panthers to only 18 total points in quarters three and four. This was important because offensively, Syracuse shot only nine of 34 themselves in the second half of play.
Despite struggling with her three-point shot, Lewis finished with a team-high 18 points. Digna Strautmane followed with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Emily Engslter and Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi finished with ten points apiece to finish in double figures.
After her ten points in the first quarter, Gabbie Green finished with a team-high 16, followed by Aysia Bugg with 12. Pittsburgh’s 26 giveaways made it difficult for the team to get in any sort of rhythm after a strong first quarter, and the Syracuse defense finished off a team that has lost then straight and is still looking for its first ACC win.
Syracuse is back in the win column, but will have another test against a visiting Duke Blue Devils team on Thursday night at 8:00. Follow along @CitrusTVSports on twitter for live game coverage from the Dome.
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