The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (13-7) defeated the Boston College Eagles (7-12) in the second round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, N.C., 67-61. Syracuse will advance to the quarterfinals Friday versus Florida State.
Kiara Lewis led all scorers with 21 points and five assists. Digna Strautmane tallied 13 points and eight rebounds, while Amaya Finklea-Guity contributed 12 points and five rebounds off the bench. Emily Engstler grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds and scored eight points.
Prior to tip, Tiana Mangakahia was honored with the Bob Bradley Spirit and Courage Award from the Atlantic Coast Sports Media Association (ACSMA) and the ACC for her courageous fight against breast cancer last year. Mangakahia did not play in Thursday's game due to a lower-body injury.
ACC Co-Sixth Player of the Year Emily Engstler started in place of the All-ACC Mangakahia, along with Freshman of the Year, Co-Defensive Player of the Year, All-Defensive Team, All-Freshman Team, and First Team All-ACC Kamilla Cardoso, All-ACC Kiara Lewis, Digna Strautmane, and Priscilla Williams. This was Engstler’s first start of the season. In addition to Mangakahia, four other Syracuse players were unavailable due to a violation of team rules: Taleah Washington, Kiara Fisher, Khamya McNeal, and Faith Blackstone.
It was a slow start on offense for both teams, with the Orange holding a 7-4 lead midway through the opening quarter. The Eagles took a one-point edge at the two-minute mark, but back-to-back three-point plays from Lewis gave the Orange a 16-11 advantage into the second quarter.
Syracuse continued to lead throughout the second frame, gaining an edge as high as six at 1:52, 29-23 Orange. ‘Cuse held onto a 31-27 advantage into the locker rooms at halftime. The Orange shot 54.5% from the field in the second frame.
Syracuse went 11-29 (38%) from the field and 3-9 from three in the first half, compared to Boston College’s 9-28 (32%) and 1-8. The Orange committed eight turnovers, while forcing four Eagle mistakes. Lewis led all players in the first half with 13 points, while Engstler led with 10 rebounds.
The Orange opened the second half on an 8-0 run to gain a double-digit, 41-31 advantage at 6:25 of the third. ‘Cuse held onto a 46-37 lead into the final 10 minutes of the game. Syracuse outscored Boston College 15-10 in the third frame.
The Eagles kickstarted the final quarter on a 9-2 run to bring the score within two, 48-46 at the seven-minute mark of the fourth. Syracuse answered with a 7-0 run of its own, leading BC 55-46 at 5:50. Despite a last minute effort from BC, ‘Cuse was able to hold onto their edge through the final moments of the contest to advance to the quarterfinals.
- Syracuse shot 39% from the field and 31% from three. Boston College shot 32% from the field and 22% from three. The Orange committed 15 turnovers and forced 10 Eagle mistakes.
- ‘Cuse held the advantage in rebounds (43-36), second chance points (16-10), bench points (15-7), points in the paint (32-22), fast break points (12-5), and blocks (4-1). BC held the advantage in points off turnovers (11-9) and steals (6-3).
- Lewis went 6-7 from the free throw line and also added two steals, a block, and a rebound.
- Strautmane shot 5-8 from the field and 3-5 from three. She also added two assists, a block, and a steal.
- Finklea-Guity shot 5-7 from the field off the bench.
- Engstler also contributed two assists.
- Williams tallied six points (all free throws) and grabbed three rebounds. The freshman went 0-5 from the field.
- Cardoso recorded four points, two rebounds, and a block.
- Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi contributed three points (all free throws), two rebounds, and a block.
- Taylor Soule led BC with 13 points and seven rebounds.
Positive: Last season, Kiara Lewis led the Orange on her own and excelled. Today, she did the same exact thing. With stellar performances from Engstler and Strautmane, Syracuse was able to survive and advance without Mangakahia.
Negative: There is no word yet on when Mangakahia or the four other Orange players out will return to the court. Without them, Syracuse will have to fight through the tournament with a shortened bench. Three ‘Cuse players were in the game for a full 40-minutes. This could start to take a toll on the team come the weekend, especially since teams are seemingly starting to figure out how to limit Cardoso.
No. 5-seed Syracuse will play No. 4-seed Florida State on Friday at 2:30 p.m. ET on RSN. The Orange lost to Florida State on Feb. 11, 52-67. In other ‘Cuse news, Mangakahia has been named a top-5 finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Top Point Guard Award. Fan voting will go live on Friday.