The Syracuse Orange had four players score in double-digits in a 67-57 win over the Virginia Cavaliers in round two of the ACC tournament on Thursday. A balanced Syracuse offensive attack is what led the Orange to victory in the last meeting between these two teams and it proved to be the deciding factor once again.
Early in the game, SU did a great job keeping UVA leading scorer Jocelyn Willoughby in check. The Orange defense held Willoughby to two points on 1-of-8 shooting in the first half.
Overall, Syracuse held Virginia to 32% shooting in the first half, including 12.5% from three-point range. The one area Virginia was having success was on the offensive boards. UVA had nine offensive rebounds in the first half, which led to some easy opportunities.
But the Syracuse offense was clicking in the first half, hitting shots from the perimeter and getting to the free throw line. The Orange were 6-of-11 from three-point range for a very efficient 54.5%. Syracuse finished a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line in the first 20 minutes.
SU headed into halftime with 40-29 lead as Miranda Drummond and Gabrielle Cooper led the Orange with nine points each (both shooting 3-of-4 from three-point range) and Kiara Lewis added eight points as well.
Jocelyn Willoughby and Digna Strautmane both scored two points in the first half, but led their respect teams in scoring in the second. Willoughby finished 7-of-8 from the field, including 3-of-3 from three-point range, after only making 1-of-8 attempts from the field in the first half. She scored 17 of Virginia’s 28 points in the second half, but she couldn’t do it by herself. None of her teammates scored more than three points in the second half and combined for just 11 points total.
DIgna Strautmane also found her shot in the second half. Strautmane scored 12 points and was 5-of-6 shooting, including 2-of-3 from behind the arc.
SU did most of its damage from inside the arc following the halftime break. Syracuse only made two three-pointers and one free throw in the second half, after a strong performance in both areas in the first. Strautmane led the team with 14 points, Tiana Mangakahia scored 13 points, Lewis finished with 12 and Drummond added 11.
Willoughby (19 points) and Dominique Toussaint (13) scored 32 of the 57 points for Virginia. This was the Achilles heel for Virginia the last time these two teams played as well. The Cavaliers will finish their season at 12-19 in Tina Thompson’s first year as head coach.
Syracuse now have 23 wins on the season, surpassing the 22 wins the team had all of last season. SU will play No. 16 Miami, the No. 4 seed in the ACC tournament. In January, the Hurricanes traveled to the Carrier Dome and handed Syracuse its first home loss of the season. The loss to Miami was the teams’s second consecutive at the time — the first instance of back-to-back defeats all season for the Orange.
Now, Syracuse plays Miami on Friday, March 8 at 11 a.m. ET in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament. The Orange are looking avenge that loss from January and advance to the semifinals. Doing so would virtually assure SU subregional hosting duties in the NCAA Tournament.