Syracuse Women’s Basketball Dominated by Notre Dame
By A.J. Fabbri
CitrsTV Women’s Basketball Reporter
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Orange (24-8, 11-5 Atlantic Coast) needed another big time performance to upset top seeded Notre Dame (29-3, 14-2) in the ACC Tournament semifinal. But playing in their third game in three days, fifth seeded Syracuse ran out of gas against the Irish.
Reminiscent of their regular season matchup, Notre Dame posted 50 points in the paint en route to a 91-66 victory over Syracuse, ending the Orange’s ACC Tournament run.
Coming off an ACC Tournament record 14 made three pointers in the quarterfinal round, Syracuse stayed hot to open up the semifinal. Gabby Cooper, Miranda Drummond and Digna Strautmane all connected on their first attempts from deep as the Orange raced out to a 13-9 lead in the first quarter.
But from there, SU went cold for the rest of the game. After starting the game 3 of 3 from distance, the Orange went 2 of 5 for the rest of the quarter.
Those numbers may not seem terrible, but the Irish took advantage. Missed three balls led to long rebounds tracked down by Notre Dame. SU struggled in their transition defense as ND built up a ten point lead after the first quarter.
The Orange hung around, trailing by just 13 at the half.
But the Irish reverted to their bread and butter to start the second half. A 9-2 run stretched the lead to 20 for ND. Syracuse had no answer for Jess Shepard down low. The senior secured a double double in points and rebounds just three minutes into the second half.
Trailing 53-33, SU head coach Quentin Hillsman banged a timeout to stem the tide. His adjustments worked, as the Orange battled their way back to within 11 at the 4:40 mark of the third quarter thanks to a couple of Tiana Mangakahia layups and a Cooper triple. It was the closest SU had been since the end of the second quarter.
The SU bench had life for the first time all half until Shepard sunk a mid-range jumper. Then Marina Mabrey drilled one of her four three pointers to push the lead back to 16.
Notre Dame shut SU down defensively from there as the Irish rolled in the final 13 minutes of the game.
The Orange finished 34.8 percent from three point range, but went just two for ten from distance in the second half.
The poor shooting prevented SU from catching any type of extended offensive rhythm.
Mangakahia finished with 14 to lead SU. Cooper had 12, and Drummond added 10.
Now, SU’s fate will be determined on March 18th, selection Monday.
With their semifinal appearance, the Orange essentially locked up a host spot in the NCAA Tournament. With South Carolina, Kentucky and Oregon State all bowing out relatively early in their respective conference tournaments, SU is in good position to secure a three seed in the Big Dance.
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