After a deadlocked third quarter result, the Orange erased a nine-point Duke lead in the fourth quarter to earn a crucial conference win at home. Syracuse earned the win primarily due to a boost from one of its bench players.
Thursday’s match-up versus the ranked conference opponent was just what the doctor ordered for the Orange’s NCAA tournament aspirations. Syracuse used contributions from the usual suspects, plus a career-best scoring effort from reserve Isis Young, to down the Blue Devils on Thursday. Young scored 16 points in 15 minutes to help the Orange outscore Duke’s bench, 24-7, on Thursday.
“We knew the gameplan was that we were going to get a lot of shots from the corners,” Young commented to the media after the game. “I wanted to knock them down when I was in a rhythm. I got the ball in some great positions, thanks to my teammates.”
A Fair Match
Syracuse and Duke (20-7, 9-5 ACC) matched up evenly through the first quarter. No team led by more than five points throughout the quarter, and the teams were knotted up, 20-20, after ten minutes. Duke held the lead for the first six minutes of the quarter before Young dropped in a three pointer with 3:42 to play. Syracuse took its first lead of the game as Tiana Mangakahia drained a three of her own to put the Orange up 14-13 with 3:09 to play in the first.
Syracuse’s first quarter lead was short-lived, as Duke re-gained the lead 25 seconds later from a pair of converted free throws from Lexie Brown. The teams traded buckets before ending the first quarter at an evened score.
The teams kept pace with each other through the majority of the second quarter — until Isis Young began to heat up. She and Miranda Drummond gave Syracuse a seven point lead, which was its largest at the time, with 2:45 to play until half. Young posted 12 of her 16 points in the first half and split the scoring effort evenly between quarters.
Following Drummond’s three pointer, Duke’s Leaonna Odom converted a layup. Young responded almost immediately with another bucket from beyond the arc with 2:13 to play until half. Syracuse would be up by eight at that point, and the Orange carried a seven-point, 43-36 lead at the half.
Here Comes Duke
The Blue Devils allowed Syracuse to go up by 10 as Drummond made another three pointer to start the third. After that, Duke went on a 7-0 run over the next 2:18 to cut the Orange lead to two points.
Duke regained the lead with 2:20 to play in the quarter and held it until Young converted a buzzer-beating layup to end the frame at an even 52-52 score.
Duke quickly began to pull away in the fourth — or so it appeared.
Duke’s Bago Faz Davalos opened the quarter with a layup to give the Blue Devils the lead.
After Isis Young followed with her own made layup, Duke began to make a run that appeared to put Syracuse out of reach. Duke held a nine point lead with just over 6:30 to play in the quarter, but Syracuse began to climb back from that point forward.
Here Comes... Syracuse?
Drummond made a three into the fourth quarter media timeout to bring Syracuse’s deficit to six points with 6:19 to play in regulation. After Odom turned the ball back over to Syracuse, Raven Fox made a layup to bring the Orange back to a four-point margin. Fox contributed eight points in 25 minutes off the bench for ‘Cuse.
Duke effectively went cold for a 2:14 span in the fourth, which was just enough for Syracuse to pull within two points with 4:20 left to play.
The teams were tied at 65 apiece with 2:30 to play. That would be the last tie of the ballgame.
Duke called a full timeout. Out of the break, Odom turned the ball over to Syracuse. Drummond failed to make a three with 1:53 to play, but forward Digna Strautmane collected a crucial offensive rebound to allow Syracuse to set its offense back up. Mangakahia missed a layup with 1:20 to play, but the Orange gathered another clutch offensive rebound and called a timeout with 58 seconds remaining.
Out of the timeout, Syracuse took the lead and never looked back.
Mangakahia set up at the top of the key and went to drive with her right hand. Duke defenders stopped that effort, forcing Mangakahia to pass the ball out. Strautmane was waiting to receive the pass where Mangakahia once stood at the top. Strautmane followed suit to Mangakahia and began to drive towards the free throw line.
Mangakahia popped out to the left wing beyond the arc, Strautmane found her, and Tiana knocked down the 68-65 game winner with 42 seconds left.
Duke had chances to win on its final possession. In fact, they had five. Brown, Rebecca Greenwell, and Odom all had chances to tie it for Duke in the waning seconds, but Syracuse was able to hold on for the upset victory.
Mangakahia paced Syracuse with 19 points and 11 assists. Young contributed 16 off the bench and Drummond scored 12 points on 4-of 11 shooting from beyond the arc to lead the scoring effort for Syracuse.
Syracuse (19-7, 7-6 ACC) will set its course for the Steel City for its next game on Monday. The Orange face the Pittsburgh Panthers on Monday. Tip versus Pitt is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. EST.
It is the first of a pair of road games for Syracuse next week. They will head to Chapel Hill to face the North Carolina Tar Heels next Thursday.
Syracuse has three regular season games remaining on its 2017-18 schedule — the final contest being at home. Syracuse concludes its 2017-2018 regular season at home versus Boston College on Sunday February 25.
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Corey Crisan is the Orange Women’s Basketball reporter for TNIAAM. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @cdcrisan for coverage all season long.