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Sharpshooting Syracuse women’s basketball handles UNC, 86-80

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The Orange earned its fourth straight win after sinking a record amount of buckets.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Siena at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team technically played in Chapel Hill, N.C., but they were making shots from outside of the 919 area code on Thursday. the Orange hit a program and ACC record 20 shots from beyond the arc to earn its fourth win in a row — an 86-80 shootout victory over the North Carolina Tar Heels.

Making it Rain

Syracuse sophomore guard Gabrielle Cooper scored a season-high 28 points on 9-of-11 shooting and 8-of-10 three-point field goals made. She paced the Orange while fellow guard Miranda Drummond followed closely with 24 points, making 7-of-8 three point attempts. Drummond has now scored at least 12 points in four of her last five games, with this performance being her best since posting 38 points on January 7 versus Florida State.

Cooper and Drummond combined to make 15 three-point field goals. To put this into context, North Carolina shot 7-of-21 from deep as a team on Thursday.

Tiana Mangakahia posted a ho-hum 12 points and 14 assists in a team-high 37 minutes played on Thursday. Despite this, she committed 10 of the team’s 16 turnovers, making this the first time Syracuse earned a win (1-3) when Mangakahia turns the ball over 10 or more times.

Mangakahia is on the brink of adding more history to her sophomore campaign, and she’s likely to reach it on Sunday in Syracuse’s final regular season game. Her 14 assists on Thursday placed her in a tie with Notre Dame’s Lindsay Allen (2017) for the ACC single-season assists record with 282.

Keeping it Close

Though Syracuse virtually could not miss from downtown, North Carolina (14-14, 4-11 ACC) kept Thursday’s game close all throughout. The game featured 11 ties and 11 lead changes — most of them coming in the first. The issue for the Tar Heels was that Syracuse could not miss. The Orange shot 55.6% from three-point range as a team, and they made exactly half of their shots in total.

In a back-and-forth first quarter, the largest lead by either side was five points, held by Syracuse as Mangakahia drained a three pointer, halfway through the quarter. The quarter was so close, nine out of 11 lead changes throughout the game occurred through the quarter. In addition, the quarter experienced five ties.

If that isn’t close enough, how about the game progressing from a 28-27 Syracuse lead after the first quarter, to a 41-41 tie at halftime?

Hanging On

Syracuse built a cushion by comparison as they led by four at the end of three quarters.

North Carolina was leading 60-56, but a 10-2 run in the last 1:50 of the third gave Syracuse the edge into the final frame. Cooper made a three to cut UNC’s lead to 60-59, then after a UNC missed field goal, forward Digna Strautmane made a three pointer to regain the lead to ‘Cuse’s favor with 1:32 left in the quarter. From there, after a pair of UNC free throws, Cooper made another three and Strautmane sunk a free throw to give SU a 66-62 lead after three quarters.

Syracuse used a 12-5 run through the first 3:20 of the fourth quarter to take an 11-point lead at the time. That would more than enough to secure the win for Syracuse — a six-point victory over its ACC rivals.

What’s Next

Syracuse’s (21-7, 9-6 ACC) head coach Quentin Hillsman spoke of two “magic numbers” all season long: 20 and 10.

Make that, 20 regular season wins, and 10 conference wins.

The Orange have eclipsed the former. They will have a chance to match the latter on Sunday versus Boston College (7-20, 2-12). Tip for Senior Day is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET at the Carrier Dome.

Follow the Author

Corey Crisan is the Orange Women’s Basketball reporter for TNIAAM. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @cdcrisan for coverage all season long.