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Friday, Nov 10, 2017 at 6:11 pm

Women’s Basketball Begins The Season with 30 Point Win Over Morgan State

By Brittany Ehrlich

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse women’s basketball kicked off its season with a 95-68 victory over Morgan State. Syracuse’s dominance on the glass was a big part of the Orange’s Friday afternoon win.

The Orange had 54 rebounds: 31 offensive rebounds and 23 defensive rebounds.

“You have to go to the glass and get multiple opportunities, and it’s in the game prep for players and they did a really great job,” head coach Quentin Hillsman said.

Those rebounds led to 29 second chance points for the Orange.

Digna Strautmane was a big part of the rebounding Orange, notching 11 of her own.

“Digna’s a very good player,” Hillsman said. “If she has an opportunity to get comfortable…I knew we would have a good game and a good season. She’s a hybrid player. She can shot it, pass it and post.”

Strautmane is a freshman 5-star recruit from Latvia. She was also ranked as the No. 22 player in her class by espnW HoopGurlz and fifth-best forward in the Class of 2017.

“Euro basket is very different, then you come here and you have to adjust,” Strautmane said. “You can always do better. There’s still a lot more work to go.”

In her international experience, Strautmane helped Latvia to an eighth-place showing at the 2017 FIBA U20 European Championship. There she averaged 18.7 points,7.4 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per contest. She was also ranked third among European Championship competitors in scoring

With the Orange, Strautmane is already a leader. On Friday, she led the team in scoring with 17 points for the Orange going 8-13.

Hillsman was pleased with his teams play in general for the first game of the season out on Jim Boeheim court.

“We were very aggressive,” Hillsman said. “We didn’t shoot the ball well especially in the beginning, but we had plenty of possession.”

In the first half, Syracuse struggled in shooting going 17-47. The team quickly turned it around to go 20-41 in the second.

Syracuse only one returned starter this season in Gabrielle Cooper, who scored 8 points on the night. After having a hot start to her collegiate basketball career at the 3-point line making 81 shots, Cooper was only 1-6 against Morgan State.

The rest of the Syracuse team consists of freshmen and transfers. Hillsman played 12 girls on Friday night and made frequent substitutions.

Hillsman said he will continue the rotation of players throughout the season due to his systems fast pace tempo of play. His players, including starting point guard Tiana Mangakahia, said they like all the substitutions because then they don’t get tired as quickly.

Returning guard Desiree Elmore was out against Morgan State due to a “spill” she had according to Hillsman, but will be returning as soon as she is cleared by doctors.

Syracuse’s next game is Thursday November 16th against Maryland Eastern Shore. The Hawks are in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, and won its first game 92-38 versus Valley Forge.