A Combined Offensive Effort Propels the Orange Past Albany in Final Tune-Up before Oregon
By Toni Bianco
CitrusTV Women’s Basketball Beat Reporter
Offensive chemistry and a balanced scoring effort for Syracuse women’s basketball (3-0, 0-0 Atlantic Coast) propelled the Orange to a 75-53 victory over Albany (1-3, 0-0 America East) on Saturday. Emily Engstler recorded her second straight double-double and point guard Kiara Lewis recorded a season-high 17 points.
Three players scored in double-digits, and ten of eleven players who checked into the game notched points to add to the scoresheet. With players like Tiana Mangakahia and Miranda Drummond leading the scoring last season, this squad knew a new approach was necessary. Engstler said the team’s primary focus this with the new unit is movement.
“Losing Tiana, made us understand this pressure that losing her meant we sucked, so we took our offense and started to divide it a little more evenly,” said Engstler, “We need to get everyone to score. It’s easier to score 80 points a game if you got everyone with 10, 20, 15, 12.”
Head Coach Quentin Hillsman says the new strategy makes it hard to defend the 2019-20 Orange.
“Balance is balance,” said Hillsman, “and it’s tough to scout balance. You can’t leave players open when you have threats on the floor.”
Syracuse got off to another slow start, with a back and forth first quarter that ended in a 16-16 tie. Great Danes point guard Kyara Frames went two-for-three from behind the arc through the first ten minutes. Frames led the way for the Great Danes, tallying 12 points, six assists, and nine rebounds.
The Orange offense found its rhythm towards the end of the second quarter. An 8-1 scoring run in the final 2:37 gave Syracuse a 34-24 lead heading into the locker room at the halftime break. Lewis capped both ends of the run, opening up the scoring with a 3-pointer and ending it with another with just 36 seconds left on the clock that gave the Orange their largest lead of the first half.
On the other side of the ball, backcourt pressure allowed 19 points off turnovers for Syracuse. The high-pressure defense caused sloppy mistakes for the Great Danes as they totaled 18 turnovers throughout 40 minutes of play.
This was the final tune-up game before the Orange host the number one team in the country on Sunday, November 24. Syracuse will attempt to avenge last season’s two-point loss to Oregon in Eugene. The Ducks are led by Sabrina Ionescu, arguably the best female point guard in the country. Ionescu just posted her 19th career triple-double against Texas Southern. The senior recorded 30 points in Oregon’s 93-86 upset over Team USA.
“We just got to come out here and handle business and do what we do,” said Cooper when asked about the anticipated matchup, “We don’t back down from anybody, we’re not scared of anybody. We don’t care what you did in the past; the past is past. Anybody can get beat on any given day.”
The Ducks are fresh off an onslaught of Texas Southern with a victory margin of more than 30 points. Both teams are undefeated heading into what’s expected to be the most exciting match up of Syracuse’s non-conference slate.
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