Syracuse Unable to Overcome 24-point Deficit Against No.3 Stanford
By Toni Bianco
CitrusTV Women’s Basketball Beat Reporter
Victoria, B.C.- Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi knocked down a three-pointer exactly two minutes into the second quarter to bring the Orange within two and put the score at 14-12. It would then be nearly 11 minutes plus a halftime break before Cuse scored another in-play basket, digging themselves a 24-point deficit in the meantime.
Despite a late third-quarter surge, No. 18 Syracuse (4-2, 0-0 Atlantic Coast) was unable to overcome No. 3 Stanford (7-0, 0-0 Pac-12) in the semifinal of the Greater Victoria Invitational. The Orange brought the deficit to a single-digit margin with one minute to play in the third, but Stanford would put an exclamation point on this one in the final ten minutes.
The Orange have lost two of its last three contests, both losses coming from top-five opponents in No. 1 Oregon and No. 3 Stanford. Had Syracuse been able to upset the Cardinal, it would have faced another top 10 team in Mississippi State in the finals.
Both teams struggled to find the hole in the first quarter. The score sat at 5-2 with the Cardinal leading for two minutes after five minutes of action. The first ten minutes brought a total of 21 points- 12 for Stanford and just nine for the Orange. Both teams were similar in the number of shot opportunities, and both shot poorly at less than 30% from the field and less than 15% from deep.
Scoring stayed relatively stagnant, each team scoring just five points in the first five minutes of the quarter before Stanford’s offense finally started to gel. The Cardinal went on an 11-point run to put them up by 17 heading into the halftime break. Syracuse, on the other hand, faced a nearly three-minute scoring drought to end the quarter.
Back-to-back three-pointers on consecutive possessions from Hannah Jump and Haley Jones closed out the half for the Cardinal. Jump did the majority of the offensive damage, scoring a total of 24 points for Stanford throughout the contest, with Jones contributing 19. Nadia Fingall controlled the boards, ripping down 13 rebounds in favor of Stanford.
Syracuse’s scoring drought continued after the halftime break. The Orange finally got a bucket three minutes into the second half on a three-pointer from Digna Strautmane. The three-ball brought the deficit back to 21 after Alyssa Jerome’s three gave Stanford a 24-point lead- its largest of the game.
A late third-quarter surge brought the Orange within eight with just over a minute to play in the third. Kiara Lewis, Teisha Hyman, and Emily Engstler were key contributors in the comeback effort, as well as a Stanford scoring slump. Aside from free throws, the Cardinal did not score after the Jerome deep ball, which came three and a half minutes into the quarter, making it just under six and a half minutes without an in-play bucket.
Kiara Lewis was a bright spot for the Orange yet again, finishing just shy of a double-double with 19 points, nine rebounds, and three assists. Emily Engstler contributed nine rebounds as well to tie the team-high and tacked on seven points.
Stanford came out for the final ten minutes looking to put the nail in the coffin in the semifinal matchup, scoring four points and quickly going back up by 15. But the Orange would not go quietly. Back-to-back threes from Hyman and Djaldi-Tabdi kept Orange within 12 with just under six minutes to play. Stanford proved why it’s the third-best team in the country. Jones and Jump commanded the last few minutes of the ball game, giving the Cardinal a 20-point lead heading into the final minute. Tara Vanderveer emptied her bench as the clock ticked down. Syracuse was ultimately not able to overcome the 24-point hole it dug itself.
The Orange will play for third place on Saturday night just before No. 3 Stanford battles No. 10 Mississippi State in the final of the Greater Victoria Invitational. Syracuse will face off with Green Bay at 8 pm EST on a third consecutive night of basketball in British Columbia.
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