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No. 22 Syracuse women’s basketball defeats Penn State, 82-72

Kiara Lewis led all scorers with 26 points and five steals

12.6.20 | Kiara Lewis, photo by Michael J. Okoniewski
Photo by Michael J. Okoniewski, Syracuse Athletics

The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (3-0) won their first game in the Carrier Dome this season on Sunday against the Penn State Nittany Lions (3-1). Syracuse overcame a double-digit Lion lead in the first half to win by 10, 82-72.

Coach Quentin Hillsman played the same starting five as last game: Tiana Mangakahia, Kiara Lewis, Priscilla Williams, Digna Strautmane, and Kamilla Cardoso.

It was a sloppy start for the Orange on Sunday afternoon, as they were down 22-14 after the first 10 minutes. Syracuse was 1-of-10 from three and committed four turnovers in quarter one.

Penn State continued to lead in the second quarter, gaining an advantage as large as 14 points. With under five minutes to play in the half, the Nittany Lions led 32-18. Six straight ‘Cuse free throws kickstarted a 15-0 run for Syracuse. Two straight steals and buckets from Lewis and Strautmane and back-to-back layups from Lewis and Mangakahia gave the Orange a 33-32 lead into halftime.

Lewis led the team with nine points and two steals after the first 20 minutes. The Orange scored 16 points off turnovers compared to Penn State’s two points. Mangakahia recorded six of the team’s eight turnovers.

The Orange and Nittany Lions traded shots to start the second half. Penn State gained a seven point advantage at the seven-minute mark of the third, but Syracuse bounced back with a 14-2 run to lead 55-48 at 2:48. ‘Cuse held onto their lead into the final quarter, 61-53.

Syracuse gained its largest lead of the game of 11 to start the fourth, 66-55. Penn State began to itch back into contention with a five-point difference, but the Orange were able to hang on and win, 82-72.

The lead changed nine times on Sunday. The Orange shot 38 percent from the field, but struggled behind the arc (5-29). Penn State shot 36.8 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from three in the game. Syracuse scored 24 points off 24 Penn State turnovers, compared to the Lion’s 13 points off 17 Orange turnovers.

Lewis dominated the court with a season-high 26 points and five steals. Mangakahia (14), Strautmane (14), and Amaya Finklea-Guity (10) joined Lewis in double-figures. Mangakahia also added eight assists and six rebounds despite nine turnovers. Strautmane tallied eight rebounds, four blocks, and three steals in addition to Finklea-Guity’s nine rebounds.

Emily Engstler checked in for the first time this season at the beginning of the third quarter. The junior contributed eight rebounds, two points, an assist, and a steal in 19 minutes.

In their second career starts, Cardoso (6 rbs & 4 pts) and Williams (4 & 4) made an impact for the Orange.

Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi rounded out the stat sheet for Syracuse with eight points and three rebounds.

Positive: ‘Cuse showed great defense and pace in Sunday’s match-up. The Orange forced 24 Lion turnovers and tallied 12 steals and six blocks.

Negatives: Syracuse recorded just 12 assists in the game. Especially at the beginning of the game, the Orange were barely moving the ball. As the game went on, they started to take their time, passed the ball, and found better shots. It is important the Orange try not to rush the game early, or they may find themselves down double-digits like today. Also, nine turnovers from Tiana is not great.

Syracuse will travel to Miami (3-0) Thursday for their Atlantic Coast Conference opener at 8 p.m. EST. The Orange fell 77-62 in last year’s meeting in Florida.