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No. 18 Syracuse women’s basketball falls to North Carolina, 92-68

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Emily Engstler and Kamilla Cardoso tallied double-doubles in the loss

NCAA Womens Basketball: Penn St. at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (4-1, 1-1) suffered their first loss of the season at North Carolina (6-3, 1-2) Thursday night, 92-68. Emily Engstler (18 pts & 10 rebounds) and Kamilla Cardoso (11 & 13) tallied their first double-doubles of the season in the defeat.

Despite injuring her foot last week, Tiana Mangakahia started Thursday night’s game alongside Cardoso, Kiara Lewis, Priscilla Williams, and Digna Strautmane.

It was an ugly opening frame for the Orange, as the Tar Heels jumped out to an early 9-0 lead. Syracuse cut the advantage to seven, 16-9 at 4:27. However, the Orange did not score the rest of the quarter and UNC led 21-9 after the first 10 minutes. ‘Cuse only scored three-pointers in the first (two from Lewis, one from Strautmane) and 14 of their 18 shot attempts were three’s.

The Tar Heels continued to dominate in the second quarter, gaining an advantage as high as 18 at 3:14, 40-22 UNC. The Orange closed the quarter on a 7-2 run, but the Tar Heels held onto their double-digit lead into halftime with a score of 45-32.

Syracuse made seven threes in the first half, matching their season average of 7.3 per game. Lewis, Engstler, and Kiara Fisher contributed six points each in the first. As a team, the Orange shot just 27.8 percent from the field and 29.2 percent from three. In comparison, UNC shot 47.1 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from three in the opening half.

The Orange were unable to make adjustments out of the break, as the Tar Heels maintained a 15+ point advantage throughout the third frame. North Carolina held their largest lead of the game into the final quarter, 69-77.

The final 10 minutes of the contest mirrored the first 30: ‘Cuse took a lot of threes and did not make most of them. The Orange suffered their first loss of the season, 68-92.

In addition to her double-double, Engstler tallied three steals. Cardoso also added a steal and two blocks.

Mangakahia played just 17 minutes in the contest and was held to three points and one assist.

Fisher and Lewis also contributed double-digit scoring for Syracuse in the loss, with 11 and 10 points respectively. Strautmane (5), Williams (4), Taleah Washington (2), Khamya McNeal (2), and Faith Blackstone (2) rounded out the scoring for ‘Cuse.

The Orange went 22-75 from the field, including 9-36 from behind the arc in the game. They also shot poorly from the free throw line, hitting just 15 of their 28 attempts.

Positive: The Orange committed just 13 turnovers in the contest after averaging 19.3 in the first four games of the season.

Negative: Syracuse continued to attempt three-pointers despite being cold the entire game. They seemed to be rushing their offensive movements and barely passed the ball around as ‘Cuse tallied just five assists in the game. Cardoso ended up with a double-double, but the Orange still barely used her or really any of their bigs. Syracuse also recorded a season-low 43 rebounds. With the tallest player in the ACC in Cardoso and three veterans to help (Strautmane, Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi, Amaya Finklea-Guity), ‘Cuse should focus more on scoring in the paint than shooting quick three’s.

Syracuse will continue on their road trip to Boston College Sunday for a 2 p.m. match-up. The game will air on the ACC Network.