Heart and Family Lift No. 18 Syracuse to Victory
By Olivia Conte
The Syracuse women’s basketball team lifted community spirits last night with a 90-63 victory over Pitt. It was an emotional day on the Hill with news that Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim was involved in a car accident that left one man dead. With the tragedy in mind, the team brought all the more heart and passion to the court. Coach Quentin Hillsman emphasized the importance of family now more than ever.
“This is a great place. We love it here. The team plays hard for the community and the university, and that’s all we want to do,” Hillsman said. “To come out every day and sit here and say how great it is that we won,”
Family really was the theme of last night’s game. Guard Digna Strautmane had her mom in the stands all the way from Lativa, seeing her play for the first time since she came to Syracuse. The sophomore couldn’t wipe the smile off her face after the game.
“It means a lot. I was just really happy. They only came for two day, but I’m so glad they made it to my game. It’s a big deal for me, I’m just very happy they came,” Strautmane said.
Strautmane got the Orange going early with a three-pointer to start the game. That would be just the first of a string of shots from downtown. Kadiatou Sissoko, Tiana Mangakahia and Emily Engstler added threes of their own, helping to give the Orange a 23-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
SU kept the pressure going in the second quarter, going on an 8-0 run in the first two minutes. The Panthers struggled from beyond the arc, shooting just over 18% in the first half. Danielle Garven and Jasmine Whitney accounted for 24 of Pitt’s 26 points through the first 20 minutes. Whitney hit the Panther’s first three with six minutes left in the half, but they couldn’t keep up with the Orange.
“We were able to score the ball, we were able to get into our pressure,” Hillsman said. “We were able to really control tempo by getting the ball to the basket and getting our defense set.”
Syracuse held a 25-point lead at halftime with scoring contributions from nine different players. Pitt actually outscored the Orange in the third quarter 25-20, but it wasn’t near enough to get the Panthers out of the trenches.
Also, while SU students were camping out for the men’s game on Saturday, the women’s team was camping out under the basket. They out-rebounded Pitt 13-5 in the third quarter, and 53-28 in the game. Amaya Finklea-Guity and Isis Young hit their free-throws to close out the third with the Orange leading 71-51.
The fourth quarter was no different as Syracuse refused to slow down the pace. The Orange added two more three-pointers bringing the game total to 11. Emily Engstler finished with a career-high 17 points in just 18 minutes. Mangakahia picked up her sixth double-double of the season, adding ten points and 12 assists. Strautmane scored 9 points in front of her family with a team-leading three steals.
The biggest game of the season is up next for the Orange. They’ll take on Notre Dame in the Dome on Monday night. The team will try to set an attendance record for the national-televised game. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.