The No. 23 Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (7-2, 4-2 ACC) suffered their second loss of the season at No. 1 Louisville (13-0, 6-0 ACC) in the KFC YUM! Center on Thursday night, 54-67. Emily Engstler tallied her third straight double-double performance, fourth of the season, with 16 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.
Kamilla Cardoso also recorded a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Kiara Lewis added 12 points and five rebounds in the loss.
Coach Quentin Hillsman stuck with the same starting line-up for ‘Cuse’s first game against a ranked team this season: Tiana Mangakahia, Kiara Lewis, Priscilla Williams, Digna Strautmane, and Kamilla Cardoso.
It was a slow start on offense to open the contest for both benches with a score of just 4-4 at 6:05 of the first quarter. Louisville picked up the pace, going on a 10-2 run over the next three minutes to hold a 14-6 advantage. Cardoso was responsible for all six of Syracuse’s first points. After an Orange timeout, Syracuse regrouped and crawled back with an 8-0 run, six points from Emily Engstler, to tie the game at 14 with under two minutes to play in the opening frame. The Cardinals ended the opening frame with a three to lead 17-14 into the second quarter.
Syracuse took a three-point lead with back-to-back scores from Cardoso and Engstler at 7:06 of the second quarter, 20-17 ‘Cuse. The Orange continued to hold onto their lead midway through the quarter with a 23-19 advantage at 5:23. Louisville hit back-to-back shots to lead 24-23, but Syracuse answered right back with a three from Williams, 26-24 ‘Cuse at the two-minute mark of the half. A buzzer-beating trey from Louisville gave the Cards a 32-29 lead at halftime.
Syracuse shot 38.2 percent from the floor and 1-8 from three in the first half, compared to UL’s 41.9 percent shooting (37.5 percent from three). There were six lead changes and four ties in the first half. ‘Cuse committed just four turnovers in the opening 20 minutes. 24 of the Orange’s 29 first half points were in the paint.
Engstler led all players with 11 points at halftime, Mangakahia led with seven assists, and Cardoso led with six rebounds. Syracuse did a great job of containing Louisville star Dana Evans, who was held scoreless in the first quarter and tallied just five points in the second.
A three from Lewis, the team’s second trey of the game, opened the scoring in the second half for the Orange, 33-32 Cards at 8:26. An 8-0 Louisville run put the Cards up 47-38 at the midway point of the quarter. UL continued to hold its lead into the final quarter, 52-44 Cardinals.
Louisville grew their advantage to double-digits, 59-44, at 7:25 of the fourth quarter. A 6-0 run by Syracuse cut the score to 59-50 with under six minutes to play in the contest. The Orange were unable to gain another long streak against the top team in the nation, falling to the Cardinals, 54-67.
- The Orange shot 39 percent from the field and connected on just 2-13 three-pointers. In comparison, the Cardinals scored 12 three’s in the game. Syracuse and Louisville tied in rebounds 35-35. The Orange outscored the Cards in the paint, 36-22, and second-chance points, 16-6. Syracuse committed 13 turnovers and forced 12 UL turnovers.
- Mangakahia dished out 11 assists and added four points (2-6). The Australian native did not commit a turnover in the game.
- Strautmane tallied four points and three rebounds, while Priscilla Williams added three points and two rebounds.
- Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi contributed two points for the Orange.
- Louisville’s Dana Evans scored 16 points in the second half to lead all scorers with 21 points.
Positive: This game was nowhere near a blowout. Syracuse lost because of missed opportunities, but they have the talent to beat a top-ranked team like Louisville.
Negative: Amaya Finklea-Guity did not play for the third straight game. Her absence was felt, as the Orange received just 18 points off the bench (16 from Engstler). Finklea-Guity has been a consistent contributor for Syracuse over the last four years and would have brought veteran experience to tonight’s game. Another negative factor is ‘Cuse’s free throw shooting. Syracuse shot 54.5 percent from the charity stripe. Free throws can decide tight games. There were certain points where Syracuse was down just two or three possessions and missed free throws. Making them would have surely changed the momentum of the second half.
The Orange will battle Clemson on the road this Sunday at noon EST on ACC Network.