The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (1-0) opened their 2020-21 slate with a win on Sunday against New York State foe the Stony Brook Seawolves (0-2). The 50-39 victory on Long Island marked the first of what seemingly could be many wins for this No. 23 ranked squad.
Coach Quentin Hillsman went with the following starting five for the season opener: Tiana Mangakahia (G), Kiara Lewis (G), Digna Strautmane (F), Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi (F), and Amaya Finklea-Guity (C). Djaldi-Tabdi’s earned her first career start. Notably missing from the lineup was Emily Engstler, who made the trip to Long Island but did not appear in Sunday’s game. Coach Quentin Hillsman stated she will be back to the court ‘soon’ in the postgame press conference.
Mangakahia, playing in her first game since March 2019, opened the first quarter with an assist to Finklea-Guity for ‘Cuse’s first points of the season.
Syracuse never trailed in the game and led by as many as 14 points in the contest. However, Stony Brook, last season’s American East Conference Champions, did not go down without a fight.
With the Orange leading 26-16 with two minutes to go in the second quarter, the Seawolves closed the half with back to back shots to keep the game within single digits. Mangakahia led all scorers with nine points and two steals at halftime. Djaldi-Tabdi and freshman Priscilla Williams tallied five rebounds a piece in the opening 20 minutes.
Syracuse started to pick up the speed in the second half, regaining their double-digit lead with a Kamilla Cardoso free throw at 2:54 of the third. Syracuse led into the final 10 minutes with a 35-28 score.
The Orange maintained their defensive momentum in the fourth quarter to capture their first win of the season by 11, 50-39.
Both teams brought their defensive A-games to the match-up. The Orange and Seawolves committed 21 and 22 turnovers, respectively. Syracuse held Stony Brook to 21 percent shooting from the field while completing just 29.4 percent of shots itself.
Both teams struggled from behind the arc, as the Orange connected on just 11.1 percent of their shots from three compared to the Seawolves’ 12.5 percent.
Mangakahia stuffed the stat sheet in her first college basketball game in 615 days. The breast cancer survivor tallied 16 points, seven rebounds, four steals, and three assists. Seven of her points came from the free throw line.
Freshman Kamilla Cardoso joined Mangakahia in double figures with 14 points off the bench in 13 minutes. Cardoso, Djaldi-Tabdi, and Lewis also tallied seven rebounds each.
Lewis (8 points), Finklea-Guity (4), Strautmane (4), Djaldi-Tabdi (2), and Williams (2) rounded out Syracuse’s scoring effort.
On the positive side, Tiana Mangakahia is back. She was the best player on the court and showed flashes of great play. We also saw how deep Syracuse’s bench is. At one point, three freshman were on the court and actually made some good plays.
On the negative side, Syracuse showed some rust on both ends of the court. They missed shoots they normally would make and didn’t play to their normal Coach Q pace. This will be fixed as more games are played; however, Atlantic Coast Conference competition is just two games away. Every team will need to find their mid-season form quicker than usual.
The Orange will host Division II Lincoln next Wednesday for their home opener at 6 p.m. EST. This will be the first meeting of the two teams in program history.