The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team (14-8) lost to the No. 5-ranked Louisville Cardinals (23-2) in the semifinal round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament at the Greensboro Coliseum on Saturday, 72-59. The Orange will turn their attention to the NCAA Tournament, where they are currently projected as an eighth seed from ESPN’s Bracketology by Charlie Creme. The bracket will be announced on Selection Monday, March 15 at 7 p.m. EST.
Emily Engstler led the Orange with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi tallied her second-straight double-figure scoring game with 11 points. Freshman Kamilla Cardoso also contributed 10 points for Syracuse.
Tiana Mangakahia (lower-body injury) and Priscilla Williams (upper-body injury) were unavailable on Saturday, as well as Taleah Washington, Kiara Fisher, Khamya McNeal, and Faith Blackstone (violation of team rules).
Starting Five: Kiara Lewis, Emily Engstler, Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi, Digna Strautmane, and Kamilla Cardoso. Saturday marked Djaldi-Tabdi’s second career start (first at Stony Brook on Nov. 29, 2020).
Lewis and Strautmane found themselves in foul trouble early with two calls each in the opening quarter. Louisville led Syracuse by six points after the first frame, 19-13. The Orange committed six turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game.
Louisville gained a lead as large as 11 in the second quarter, but a 6-0 Syracuse run midway through cut the LU advantage to five, 28-23. Both teams traded shots the rest of the half with the Cardinals holding a seven-point edge at the end of the quarter, 37-30.
Syracuse shot 37% from the field, 10-10 from the free throw line, and 0-6 from three in the first half, compared to Louisville’s 41.9% from the field and 5-10 from three. The Orange committed ten total turnovers and forced six Louisville mistakes. Engstler led Syracuse with eight points and five rebounds. ‘Cuse held ACC Player of the Year Dana Evans to one field goal in the opening quarters (1-6 from the field).
Strautmane knocked down the team’s first three-pointer of the game at 6:16 of the third quarter, 46-39 Louisville. A 6-0 Cardinal run was ended by an Engstler trey to cut the edge to eight, 54-46, at the two-minute mark of the frame. Louisville grew its advantage to 12 heading into the final 10 minutes of play, 59-47. The Cardinals outscored the Orange 22-17 in the third frame.
Louisville continued to hold a double-digit lead through the fourth quarter to win despite comeback attempts from Syracuse. The Orange connected on just 4 of their 16 shots in the final frame.
- Syracuse shot 36% from the field and 3-17 from three, compared to Louisville 40% and 6-20. The Orange committed 15 turnovers in the game and forced nine Cardinal mistakes.
- Syracuse held the advantage in second chance points (13-12) and blocks (4-0). Louisville held the advantage in rebounds (39-37), offensive rebounds (14-12), bench points (23-3), points in the paint (32-26), fast break points (10-3), and steals (6-1).
- Engstler’s numbers mark her sixth double-double of the season and 15th of her career. She also contributed two assists and a block in 40 minutes. Engstler shot 7-17 from the field and 5-6 from the free throw line.
- Djaldi-Tabdi shot 5-10 from the field and 0-4 from three. She also tallied six rebounds and three assists.
- Cardoso went 3-9 from the field and 4-5 from the free throw line. She grabbed seven rebounds and added an assist and a block.
- Lewis tallied seven points off 1-10 shooting and 5-5 from the free throw line. She grabbed five rebounds and dished out three assists.
- Strautmane also tallied seven points off 3-6 shooting from the floor and 1-4 from three. She tallied five rebounds, two blocks, and an assist.
- Finklea-Guity contributed three points and four rebounds off the bench.
- Dana Evans led the Cardinals with 13 points.
Positive: The Orange played with really just six players this tournament and were able to make it to the semifinals. The next week or so off will be a great time to get the rest of the team healthy and off suspension to be fully loaded for NCAA’s.
Negative: There were opportunities for Cardoso to make more plays, but she either didn’t complete the play or the team did not pass to her. Cardoso could have been utilized a little bit more in this tournament and will hopefully be a bigger factor in March Madness. The team also needs to adjust their three-point shooting, as 17% won’t cut it in the tournament.
As stated above, Syracuse is currently projected as an eighth seed in the NCAA Tournament from ESPN’s Bracketology by Charlie Creme. The bracket will be announced on Selection Monday, March 15 at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN. In other ‘Cuse news, fan voting is now live for Mangakahia as the Nancy Lieberman Top Point Guard Award.