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No. 23 Syracuse women’s basketball defeats North Carolina, 88-76

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Kiara Lewis led all scorers with 23 points, while three Orange players tallied double-doubles in the win

1.19.21 | Kiara Lewis versus UNC Photo by Michael J. Okoniewski, Syracuse Athletics
1.19.21 | Kiara Lewis versus UNC Photo by Michael J. Okoniewski, Syracuse Athletics
Michael J. Okoniewski, Syracuse Athletics

The No. 23 Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (7-1, 4-1 ACC) defeated North Carolina (7-5, 2-5 ACC) in the Carrier Dome on Tuesday afternoon, 88-76, to split the season series with the Tar Heels. Kiara Lewis led all scorers with 23 points off 9-19 shooting.

Three Orange players recorded double-doubles, including Tiana Mangakahia (19 pts & 13 asts), Kamilla Cardoso (16 rbs & 10 pts), and Emily Engstler (13 rbs & 11 pts). Priscilla Williams was one rebound shy of a double-double with 11 points and nine boards. Tuesday was the second straight game five Syracuse players scored 10+ points.

Recap

Tiana Mangakahia, Kamilla Cardoso, Digna Strautmane, Kiara Lewis, and ACC Freshman of the Week Priscilla Williams started for the Orange and White.

It was a back-and-forth battle from the jump between the ACC foes. The Orange went up 12-8 with a three-point play from Mangakahia at 6:12. The Tar Heels went on a 7-0 run midway through the quarter but were shut down with a Lewis lay-up at 4:06, 17-16 UNC. ‘Cuse ended the quarter on a run of their own to lead 24-21 into the second quarter. There were six lead changes in the opening frame.

A steal and bucket from Emily Engstler opened the second quarter of play. The Orange gained a six-point advantage at the seven-minute mark with a bucket from Williams, 31-25 ‘Cuse. UNC tied the contest at 2:40 off an 8-2 run, 33-all. ‘Cuse regained their momentum in the final minutes, holding a 40-37 advantage into halftime. The Orange led the entire second quarter.

Syracuse shot just 34.9 percent from the field in the opening half, compared to UNC’s 44.8 percent shooting. Both teams went 33.3 percent from behind the arc. The Orange outrebounded the Tar Heels 33-16. Strautmane and Lewis led the team with eight points at halftime. Three Syracuse players tallied 5+ rebounds in the first two quarters, including Cardoso (10), Williams (8), and Strautmane (7).

UNC regained their lead with a four-point play at 8:15 of the third quarter, but Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi answered right back with a bucket for the Orange, 46-45 ‘Cuse. An 8-0 Tar Heels run midway through the third put them up 53-46, but a trey from Mangakahia kept the Orange within two possessions. North Carolina expanded its scoring gap to nine, but a buzzer-beating three from Engstler kept Syracuse within six points into the final quarter, 67-61 UNC.

‘Cuse opened the fourth quarter with a 5-0 run to regain the lead, 68-67. Syracuse led by six with under six minutes left in the contest, 80-74. The Orange gained a double-digit lead to avenge their Dec. 17 loss, 88-76. UNC scored 30 points in the third quarter, but Syracuse held them to just nine points in the fourth.

Stats

  • The Orange shot 44 percent from the field and 40.9 percent from three. The team outrebounded UNC (50-36), dished out more assists (24-19), blocked more shots (10-3), and tallied more points in the paint (46-34).
  • There were 12 total lead changes in the game, including six in the first quarter.
  • Cardoso also blocked four shots in addition to her double-double. Her 16 rebounds is a career-high for the freshman.
  • This was the second straight contest Mangakahia and Engstler recorded double-doubles. Mangakahia’s performance marked a season-high in both points and assists. She also surpassed the 400th career field goal made mark in the win.
  • Strautmane tallied eight points, seven rebounds, five assists, and three blocks in the win.
  • Djaldi-Tabdi (4) and Kiara Fisher (2) rounded out the scoring attack for the Orange.

Takeaways

Positive: With the win, the Orange split the season series between the Tar Heels. Mangakahia also saw a significant decrease in her turnovers, with just three on Tuesday compared to nine last game.

Negative: Amaya Finklea-Guity and Taleah Washington did not play for the second straight game. The Orange will need all hands on deck for Thursday’s game against the No. 1 team in the nation.

Looking towards the postseason, the NCAA Division I WBB Committee provided several updates regarding the 2021 NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship in March, including that the tournament will have a 64-team bracket, the .500 rule will be waived, and an eligibility waiver will be available for teams that do not reach a minimum of 13 games.

Syracuse will travel to Louisville to battle the No. 1-ranked Cardinals at 9 p.m. EST on Thursday (ESPN2). This will be the Orange’s first game against a ranked opponent this season.