The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (12-7, 9-7 ACC) fell to No. 2 North Carolina State (17-2, 12-2 ACC) on Sunday in the final game of the regular season, 68-61. Syracuse held the lead at the three-minute mark of the fourth quarter, but was unable to complete the upset. There were 19 total lead changes and eight ties in the contest.
Kiara Lewis led all scorers with a season-high 29 points off 52.2% shooting in 40 minutes. Tiana Mangakahia also contributed double-figure scoring with 10 points.
Syracuse rocked custom pink Nike jerseys in honor of the Play4Kay breast cancer awareness game. Prior to tip, Amaya Finklea-Guity and Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi were recognized for Senior Day. It was also the last game in the Carrier Dome for Tiana Mangakahia, Kiara Lewis, and Digna Strautmane (celebrated Senior Day last season).
Coach Quentin Hillsman stuck with his usual starting lineup on Sunday: Mangakahia, Lewis, Strautmane, and freshmen Priscilla Williams and Kamilla Cardoso.
The Orange came out hot in the final game of the regular season, leading the Wolfpack 11-6 at 3:34 of the opening quarter. NC State ended the quarter on a 12-4 run to lead by three, 18-15, into the second frame.
Four straight points from Lewis put Syracuse back on top, 19-18, in the opening minutes of the second quarter. The ACC foes traded shots throughout the frame, changing the lead eight times. A buzzer-beating layup from Lewis put the Orange up at halftime, 31-30.
There were 12 lead changes in the opening half. Syracuse shot 41.2% from the field and 25% from three, compared to NC State’s 36.4% and 14.3%. The Orange blocked seven Wolfpack shots in the first half (Djaldi-Tabdi 3, Emily Engstler 2, Strautmane 1, Williams 1). Lewis led all players with 15 points in the first half, while Cardoso led with seven rebounds.
Midway through the third quarter, the game was tied at 36-all. A 13-0 run put the Wolfpack up 49-36 at the two-minute mark of the frame. NC State continued to lead into the final 10 minutes of the game, 51-38. The Wolfpack outscored the Orange 21-7 in the quarter. Syracuse went 2-15 from the field and 0-7 from behind the arc in the third frame.
A three-point play from Cardoso, her first points of the game, put ‘Cuse within single digits of the Pack, 53-44 at 8:51. Cardoso’s ‘and one’ kickstarted an 11-0 run, 53-49, to put the Orange back into the game at 6:14. A three from Lewis extended the run and gave Syracuse the lead, 54-53, at 5:33. ‘Cuse continued to lead 58-55 at the three-minute mark of the quarter. NC State regained the lead at 2:06 and was able to hold on through the game to escape the upset. Syracuse outscored NC State 23-17 and shot 50% from the field in the final quarter.
- The Orange shot 36.9% from the field and 4-24 from three. The Wolfpack shot 40% from the field and was 1-9 from three. Syracuse went 9-11 from the free throw line, while NC State went 19-21.
- The Orange held the advantage in second chance points (10-5) and blocks (11-1). The Wolfpack held the advantage in rebounds (41-37), assists (16-8), turnovers (14-15), bench points (24-15), fast break points (17-6), steals (8-7), points off turnovers (13-11), points in the paint (40-38), and fouls (9-19).
- Lewis tallied her 15th 20-point game of her Syracuse career. She also added three rebounds and an assist.
- Mangakahia contributed five assists and three steals.
- Cardoso tallied 10 rebounds, three points, two assists, a block, and a steal.
- Off the bench, Djaldi-Tabdi contributed nine points, six rebounds, and four blocks.
- Engstler added 10 rebounds, six points, and four blocks off the bench.
- Williams contributed four points, two steals, a rebound, and a block.
- Strautmane tallied three rebounds and a block.
- Elissa Cunane led the Wolfpack with 17 points.
Positive: Once again, Kiara Lewis. Lewis was on fire and NC State did not know how to respond to her. Syracuse’s defense was on fire. Holding one of the top teams in the nation to one three-pointer just a game after they recorded a single-game program record of 16 three pointers is extremely impressive. 11 total blocked shots from five different Orange players is also something to be happy about.
Negative: Cardoso seemed to hit a wall in this game, scoring her first points in the fourth. She had one of the best centers in the country on her, but it was definitely not her best performance. Overall shooting also needs to improve through the postseason.
Up next, Syracuse will turn its attention to the ACC Tournament. The Orange are currently projected to be the fourth seed and would play the winner of the No. 5 vs. No. 12/13 game. The women’s tournament will take place March 3-7 at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina. A limited number of tickets will be on sale for the men’s and women’s tournaments.