The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team lost to the No. 1 UConn Huskies in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32 at the Alamodome, 83-47. Syracuse ends its season with a 15-9 overall record. It was the final game in Orange and White for All-American Tiana Mangakahia. Kiara Lewis, Digna Strautmane, Amaya Finklea-Guity, and Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi have not yet announced whether they plan to return to Syracuse next season.
Emily Engstler led the team with 12 points, eight rebounds, and two steals. Kamilla Cardoso also contributed 12 points along with seven boards in the contest.
Priscilla Williams (upper-body injury) and Taleah Washington, Kiara Fisher, Khamya McNeal, and Faith Blackstone (violation of team rules) did not travel to Texas for the tournament.
Starting Five: Tiana Mangakahia, Kiara Lewis, Emily Engstler, Digna Strautmane, and Kamilla Cardoso
Syracuse’s zone forced three UConn turnovers in the first three minutes of the contest. The teams were tied at six-all midway through the opening quarter. A 7-0 run propelled UConn into a nine point lead, but the Orange crawled back to cut the advantage to five into the second frame, 19-14 Huskies. Cardoso scored eight of ‘Cuse’s first quarter points, including the first six scores.
A 5-0 Orange run opened the second quarter of play and slashed the Husky gap to 21-19. UConn answered with an 8-0 run of its own, but a layup from Engstler ended the Syracuse drought, 27-21 Huskies. Engstler was 0-7 from the field prior to that shot. UConn gained a double-digit lead at 1:49 of the quarter and built a 41-26 advantage into halftime. The Orange went 4-17 from the field in Q2 and did not score in the final two minutes of the half.
Syracuse shot 31% from the field and 29% from three in the first half, compared to UConn’s 57% and 43%. ‘Cuse committed eight turnovers in the half and forced six Husky mistakes. Cardoso led ‘Cuse with 10 points and six rebounds in the opening 20 minutes of play.
UConn began to pull away from Syracuse in the second half, earning a 20-point plus lead at 6:34 of the third quarter, 48-28. The Huskies continued to build upon their advantage and held a 64-35 edge over the Orange after the third frame. UConn outscored ‘Cuse 23-9 in the third and held Syracuse to 22.2% shooting compared to its 55.6% shooting. Cardoso was held scoreless in Q3.
The Huskies’ second half rally was too much for the Orange to overcome in the fourth quarter. With a score of 83-47, UConn knocks Syracuse out of the Big Dance and advances to its 27th straight Sweet Sixteen.
A season we will never forget.— 'Cuse Hoops (@CuseWBB) March 24, 2021
Thank you for the support, Orange Nation. We can’t wait to SEE you next season pic.twitter.com/WW3ZjfrBbT
- Syracuse shot 28% from the field and 20% from three in the loss. UConn shot 55% from the field and 33% from three. The Huskies went 24-30 from the free throw line, while the Orange went 12-16. ‘Cuse committed 18 turnovers and forced 12 UConn mistakes.
- Syracuse held the advantage in rebounds (34-33), offensive rebounds (17-7), second chance points (10-4), and blocks (4-3). UConn held the advantage in points off turnovers (27-15), defensive rebounds (26-17), bench points (12-5), points in the paint (38-26), fast break points (21-0), steals (11-4), and assists (16-7).
- Engstler shot 4-15 from the field, while Cardoso shot 5-9
- Lewis contributed eight points (2-12) and two rebounds
- Mangakahia tallied seven points (3-8), three assists, and two rebounds.
- Strautmane added three points (1-5) and three rebounds
- Finklea-Guity recorded three points (three free throws) and three rebounds
- Djaldi-Tabdi contributed two points (1-3), four rebounds, and two blocks
- Paige Bueckers led the Huskies with 20 points
I will write a more detailed recap of the season soon, but for now, I will say that this was a tough way to end a promising season for the Orange. There are a lot of positive storylines for this team heading into next year with Engstler, Cardoso, and Williams. I hope Lewis, Strautmane, Finklea-Guity, and Djaldi-Tabdi strongly consider coming back.
Watching Tiana Mangakahia, a cancer survivor and the assist queen, has been a privilege over the last couple of years. I am sad to see her college career end this way, but am excited to watch her play in the WNBA.
Thank you all for following along this season and be sure to watch the Orange men take on Houston in the Sweet Sixteen on Saturday!