No. 12 Syracuse adjusts game plan to defeat North Carolina, 90-77, in home conference opener

first_img Published on January 13, 2019 at 4:55 pm Contact Eric: erblack@syr.edu | @esblack34 Comments Tiana Mangakahia slipped through the lane, side-stepping a North Carolina big before finishing through contact with her right hand. She fell to the ground. Her teammates on the bench rose to their feet, screaming “and one” in unison.She’d made four-straight 3-pointers at the time, and as a team, Syracuse had broken its program record for 3s in the first half. Now, in the second half, Mangakahia’s layup and foul served as a play that marked changed gameplans for both herself and her team. After jumping out to a 19-point lead at halftime on the strength of its historic shooting from deep, No. 12 Syracuse (14-2, 3-0 Atlantic Coast) turned its offensive attack toward the paint to take down North Carolina (9-8, 0-3), 90-77. Following its dozen 3s in the first half, SU failed to hit a 3-pointer in the second, allowing the Tar Heels to fight back into the game before Syracuse’s inside play took over.Susie Teucsher | Digital Design EditorAdvertisementThis is placeholder text“They did a good job of taking our perimeter away,” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “We had to take what they gave us, and what they gave us was post feeds and playing off the bounce.”It was an inconspicuous start for the Orange, who missed their first four shots of the game. Then, the 3s began to rain. Miranda Drummond ended the beginning slump for SU, nailing a triple with 7:36 left in the first.Drummond’s basket was the only scoring in the opening three minutes for Syracuse. In the next seven, SU scored 29.After increasing its lead to 12-8, Syracuse went on to nearly exclusively shoot from beyond the arc. Its next six baskets were all 3s. First, it was a pair from Drummond. Then, Mangakahia got involved in four-straight scoring trips, assisting on a couple and hitting two of her own. By the end of the first, the Orange had hit eight 3s and posted 32 points, both season-highs for a quarter.In the game’s opening quarter, Syracuse used its triples to get a lead on the Tar Heels. In the next, the Orange used them to extend it. Four more shots from range pushed SU to a season-high 56 points in the first half and a 19-point lead by halftime.“We did a good job of coming out aggressive, pushing tempo, playing fast,” Hillsman said. “We got some opportunities early in the shot clock and we took advantage of them.”Syracuse’s scoring slowed to begin the second half, though. North Carolina, which Hillsman referred to as a “very good third quarter team,” ran the Orange off the 3-point line and scored 13 points to cut SU’s lead to 11. The Orange hadn’t yet made a 3 in the opening minutes of the half, and the Tar Heels took advantage.But a timeout by Hillsman didn’t help. Two misses by Kiara Lewis and two makes by North Carolina center Janelle Bailey trimmed UNC’s deficit to seven by a media stoppage at 4:29 on the clock. A corner miss from Emily Engstler left the Orange scoreless from deep, but a layup by Digna Strautmane on the next trip down broke their scoreless spell.With its hot start from beyond the arc extinguished, SU turned to the paint to take back control of the game. After a first half in which Bailey played all but one minute, the Orange began to attack the only big in the Tar Heels’ rotation. Bailey’s counterpart on Syracuse, Amaya Finklea-Guity, began to go at her offensively and draw fouls.“We knew that (Bailey was in foul trouble),” Mangakahia said. “We were trying to kick it into (the bigs), so she wasn’t really trying to play defense.”Aaron Kassman | Contributing PhotographerWith her team’s lead at the lowest that it had been since the first quarter, Finklea-Guity took over. She missed a shot in the third quarter but was fouled, making both free throws. On the next possession, she made a layup. Thirty-one seconds later, she downed her third shot in a row. After seeing its lead cut to as little as seven in the third quarter, Syracuse never led by fewer than 10 following its center’s scoring spurt.After Finklea-Guity’s personal run, Mangakahia took back the scoring reigns. A steal by the Brisbane, Australia native turned into more points in the paint, as she cut through the lane and finished the and-1 layup to prompt the bench explosion.“It helped us, it brought us more energy,” Mangakahia said about the nine points by her and Finklea-Guity. “It helped us for the fourth quarter.” As her teammates on the bench nearly spilled onto the court, Mangakahia composed herself before knocking down the ensuing free throw to put Syracuse up by 14. In the fourth quarter, she turned back to distribution. First, a pass 14 seconds into the period to Engstler led to a bucket. A few possessions later, Finklea-Guity was on the receiving end of an assist for a layup, this time to put SU up by 17.By knocking down the record number of 3s, the Orange took control of the game early. They did the exact opposite to close it when the perimeter shooting went dry.“Now it’s working a little bit more from the perimeter,” Strautmane said. “We know we have that opportunity to go inside, we just have to go. And when we are going, we score.”center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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