The beginning of the Syracuse Orange basketball season was filled with questions. The questions of depth, of filling a leadership role, and of being the new era of players under 12th-year head coach Quentin Hillsman were there to answer. Syracuse did that over the course of the 2017-18 season en route to a No. 8 seed in the Women’s NCAA Tournament.
Those answers were played out over the course of the season, but the fulfillment of those answers were put on hold by the Oklahoma State Cowgirls on Saturday. Syracuse’s season came to a close as the Orange fell to the Cowgirls, 84-57, in Starkville, Miss.
The Orange come up short against Oklahoma State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament pic.twitter.com/Ayr5p6Dzri— 'Cuse Women's Hoops (@CuseWBB) March 17, 2018
Syracuse point guard Tiana Mangakahia faced one of her most difficult adversaries in Cowgirls point guard Loryn Goodwin. Goodwin entered Saturday’s game as Oklahoma State’s leader in points (20.9 ppg), assists (5.3 apg), and steals (3.5 spg) per game, but she wasn’t the primary one the Orange needed to stop on Saturday.
Oklahoma State guard Jaden Hobbs stole the show on Saturday. The redshirt freshman from Alva, Okla. averaged 4.0 ppg, including a career-high 12 points versus Kansas on February 3. She doubled up on that total and then some against the Orange.
Hobbs matched her career-high 12 points on a run by herself in the third quarter. She made four consecutive three-point attempts between the 3:12 and 0:47 mark of the quarter, which helped give Oklahoma State a commanding 67-41 lead at the end of the frame. Oklahoma State outscored Syracuse 27-7 in the third.
Syracuse hung around through the first half, but one of its key players made the mountain slightly more difficult to climb. ‘Cuse forward Digna Strautmane played just four minutes in the first quarter and did not play in the second quarter after accumulating two personal fouls within the first 4:28 of the game.
Oklahoma State opened the first portion of the game on a 13-5 run through the first media timeout. After OSU’s Kaylee Jensen made a pair of free throws, Syracuse went on a 10-0 run to tie the game at 16 apiece. Syracuse held a 22-18 lead, its largest of the game, with 1:21 to play in the first. Oklahoma State finished the quarter on a 5-0 run to hold a 23-22 lead after one.
Syracuse held on through the second quarter, but Oklahoma State finished that frame off with an 8-0 run to hold a 40-32 lead at the half.
From there, Jaden Hobbs and the Cowgirls took over.
Hobbs made 8-of-9 three pointers on Saturday en route to a career-high 27 points. Her teammate Loryn Goodwin contributed 19 points and eight assists, and Cowgirl forward Kaylee Jensen contributed her usual double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds.
For Syracuse, Miranda Drummond and Isis Young were the only two to net double-figures. Drummond posted 24 points on 8-of-16 shooting, and Young tallied 11 points off the bench.
Syracuse’s season ends at 22-9 overall. The Orange have plenty to look forward to within the next couple of seasons, including a bolstered recruiting class and, most importantly, the return of all five starters. The Orange are losing just three players - Jasmine Nwajei, Abby Grant, and Marisa Romeo. Nwajei was the only of the three to contribute significant bench minutes.
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Author’s Note: Corey here. I want to give a BIG thanks to John Cassillo and the rest of the TNIAAM staff for welcoming me into the fold this season. I had a blast covering this women’s team as its beat writer, and I hope whoever takes the reigns next season will enjoy that same experience. Can’t wait to pump out some more goodies for the site. Glad I got to make TNIAAM a part of my experience through my one year of graduate school at SU. Cheers!
Corey Crisan is a contributor and the Orange Women’s Basketball reporter for TNIAAM. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @cdcrisan for coverage.