Syracuse finally got the marquee win they’ve been waiting for all season.
The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team has faced a gauntlet of premier teams all year, and it didn’t get any easier for the ‘Cuse in the 2019 Sunshine Classic as they faced No. 19 Michigan State.
Syracuse came out firing in this one, scoring at will in the opening frame. Gabrielle Cooper had the hot hand knocking down a three at the 3:31 mark of the first which led to a Michigan State timeout as they trailed the Cuse 20-6. Syracuse looked incredibly energetic and ready to go after the long layoff. Another Cooper three would give the Cuse a 23-8 lead and the rout definitely could’ve been on. Syracuse led after one quarter 27-13, but at the start of the second the Spartans looked to have a little life. In the last 1:30 of the 2nd quarter, Michigan State scored the last five points to cut the game to single digits going into the break. They outscored the Orange 17-11 in the second quarter. Syracuse really didn’t want this one to slip away from them like the Michigan game did a few weeks ago.
This game got even tighter in the start of the third, as a Mardreika Cook three would make this a 38-35 game, and Syracuse had zero momentum. The Orange would bend and not break however, as they went back to their dominant big Djaldi-Tabdi to bully the Spartans in the paint. Her four consecutive points, two free throws and one lay-up gave Syracuse the separation they needed to really put away Michigan State. Syracuse would go on a great run to end the third, getting points on the paint from all over the roster. Strautmane, Cooper, and Djaldi-Tabdi burst this thing wide open going up 57-40 with a 1:42 remaining in the third.
But Orange fans, Syracuse just couldn’t put the Spartans away in the fourth. A Nia Clouden mid range jumper brought this thing all the way back to a three point game as the Spartans continued to chip away. Again however, the Orange never gave up the lead, and continued getting to the line and running the clock. A Gabrielle Cooper three made it a 10-point game again with a minute to go, and that would do it. Right before the clock hit zero, Emily Engstler recorded her 17th rebound of the game as Syracuse finally got that big win, 77-65.
Gabrielle Cooper had a season-high 19 points, followed by Kiara Lewis with 18, Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi with 16, and Emily Engstler with 13. A very impressive night for the Orange who were strong from the jump against a great opponent. SU will next play West Virginia on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET.