Just when you think they’re down and out for the count, the Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team pulled out a stunner in the Dome, beating the Virginia Tech Hokies 67-65.
It started out a lot like the past several games for the ‘Cuse, as sluggish offensive play and getting out-rebounded propelled Virginia Tech to an early lead. In the first quarter, the Hokies out-rebounded Syracuse 16-8, grabbing 6 offensive boards in the process. The Orange shot just 3-15 from the field, resulting in 7 points after the first ten minutes. The Hokies would take a 13-7 lead into the first break, which was quite remarkable based on how Syracuse played.
The second quarter meant more scoring for both teams. Free throws by Gabrielle Cooper and a layup from Maeva Djalbi-Tabdi made it a 15-13 game. Tech would settle in too, as an Alex Obouh-Fegue layup midway through the second frame gave them a 21-13 lead. The Orange kept up pace though, and didn’t let Virginia tech walk away with this. Tech outscored Syracuse 23-20 in the second, and took a 36-27 lead into halftime. Still a game, but confidence was definitely not high with the Orange faithful.
The Orange struggled shooting from long range in the first half, so they really needed to see if they could get Emily Engstler involved more to create fouls and get to the line, something she does particularly well. They didn’t exactly go with that gameplan, but Kiara Lewis was able to start to find her scoring groove. A shot that will most likely go unnoticed was a three pointer from Lewis at the 5:45 mark. The shot clipped the Hokie lead to 8, that wound up being huge later on. Virginia Tech would hit their stride after that however, as they got hot from the field. A Lydia Rivers layup made it 51-35, and the Dome was pretty quiet. Kiara Lewis and Gabrielle Cooper would connect on back-to back possessions, and instead of folding, Coach Q’s squad was going to make Tech fight till the end. Amaya Finklea-Guity made a layup with 5 seconds left in the third, and the Cuse had an 11-point deficit to make up before the final buzzer. VT led, 56-45.
At the 4:45 mark of the fourth, it didn’t look like the Hokies were going to budge, as an Aisha Shepard three put them up 62-52. Engstler and Finklea-Guilty would hit back to back shots however, and all of a sudden we had a 63-59 game with three minutes left. Gabrielle Cooper would stay clutch at the line nailing two free throws following a few empty possessions, and the Orange crawled all the way back to be down just 2, using a 16-7 run. The two teams would then trade layups, but a Djaldi-Tabdi layup with 56 seconds left tied the game at 65. Tech would fail to score on the following possession, setting up time for Syracuse to pull this one out with a late bucket. Kiara Lewis, who has been the teams go to scorer all year, drove right by her defender at the top of the key, and finished a layup over Elizabeth Kitley. Orange up 67-65 with 5 seconds left. Virginia Tech came up empty after they advanced the ball following a timeout, and Syracuse won a really big game over a very good Hokie squad. Syracuse outscored Virginia Tech 22-9 in the fourth quarter.
The Hokies had a balanced scoring attack, and were led by their star freshman Elizabeth Kitley with 10 points and 9 rebounds. No other player would enter double digit scoring for VT. Syracuse shot 37% from the field, and were led by star guard Kiara Lewis who had 19 points and zero turnovers. Finklea-Guity and Djaldi-Tabdi scored 13 and 12, respectively.
It’s a big win for a Syracuse team that was about as low as you could get before this one started. The win puts Coach Q just two wins away from his 300th, and moves the ‘Cuse to 10-10 overall with a 3-4 ACC record. The victory makes things interesting for Syracuse, as you really have no idea what team is going to show up on any given night. The Orange will be back in action on Sunday when they face off against UVA in Charlottesville at 2 p.m. ET.