By: Kylan Watson
In front of 2,464 people, the Syracuse University Women’s Basketball team suffered a heartbreak to the South Dakota State University. The Jackrabbits were able to hit some late threes to beat the Orange 75-64.
It was looking good for the Orange early in the game. They were able to hit their shots early in the game and use that momentum to get an 11-point lead. During this run they were led by sophomore guard Kiara Lewis. She scored 13-points. Nine of those points occurred in the first half.
Lewis was the spark the Orange needed early in the game.
However, the good feelings would not last for the Orange as the Jackrabbits were able to go on a 16-2 run against the Orange. They took advantage of some defensive lapses by the Orange. They were able to hit some wide-open and tough three-pointers and took advantage of the fact that the Orange did not play well in the paint.
The player that engineered this run was senior forward Myah Selland. She scored 17-points and grabbed eight rebounds. She was able to attack the paint defenders for the Orange and get a lot of them in foul trouble. Selland opened more outside opportunities for her teammates.
The teammate that was usually open was fellow senior guard Madison Guebert. Guebert hit some tough shots to help the Jackrabbits pull away from the Orange later in the game. She took full advantage of the weakness in the zone-defense Syracuse was using. She scored 20-points and hit six three-pointers. Thanks to that performance, by the second half the Orang were down by six-points.
Junior Guard Tiana Mangakahia said, “Yeah it was tough they were making a lot of shots, and a couple of their threes were wide-open. But you know we just must do better, and the zone is something we’ve been running all season. We just didn’t run it to its full potential.”
The Orange would not go down without a fight, early in the fourth quarter they went on a 13-0 run to retake the lead. The Orange were able to force some timely turnovers and take advantage of some fast break opportunities. They were propelled by junior guard Tiana Mangakahia.
Mangakahia used this run to score 18-points and had eight assists. She also got her 591st assist and she was able to hit some timely buckets and find a way to get the ball to her teammates in the right spots to keep the game interesting.
However, a 1-11 power outage would doom the Orange to suffer a heartbreaking loss on their home floor. They could not buy a shot until it was too late, and the Jackrabbits are moving on to face Oregon in the Sweet 16.
Coach Quentin Hillsman said, “At the end of the day you can’t end the game 1-for-11, and a 16-2 run. That does it alone. You know we got to do a better job of closing games. At the end of the day my program is my responsibility, and I have to do a better job of putting my players in the right position to be successful, score, and defend. That’s where I let them down today. You know I got to do a better job and continue to do a better job and to put us in position to be successful.”
After a fantastic 25-9 season the Orange once again are going home early, and Quentin Hillsman now has to pick-up the pieces and come back stronger next year.