#24 Orange Slay the Dragons to Remain Unbeaten

Published on February 18, 2018

Story by Frank DeLuca

Syracuse, N.Y. – The Syracuse women’s basketball team defeated Drexel 72-62 in the Carrier Dome on Saturday.

The Orange the struggled in the first half but rallied to extract revenge over the Dragons that beat them in a 62-61 heartbreaker just a year ago.

“As long as we keep having more points at the end of the game, I’m going to go with it,” Syracuse women’s head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “So maybe it is what it is, we have to live with some slow starts and win games. I’ll take it every night.”

The Orange collected their tenth straight win to begin the season; this is the first 10-0 start the team has seen since the 2009-10. The team went on to win 12 straight en route to an eventual 25-11 finish that season.

Scoring by Committee

Syracuse had five players hit double digits in the game; two with double-doubles.

Digna Strautmane put up a career-high 19 points and hauled in 11 rebounds for her second double-double of the season.

“She was fantastic tonight on the offensive end, and defensively she did a really good job of staying in front of her man and walling up on defense,” Coach Hillsman said.

Tiana Mangakahia continued a strong effort this year. She played through a slow first half that saw her only make one shot in six attempts and score seven points. Through the second half she made four of her five shots and finished with 16 points. She also put up a double-double with ten assists.

Miranda Drummond scored 17 points and grabbed eight boards. Gabrielle Cooper and Isis Young both helped the Orange scoring threat with ten points.

“I guess we just have a totally different mindset in the second half,” Miranda Drummond said. “We know we need to win this game and we need to count on everyone to do their part and contribute, and we’ve been doing pretty well.”

Tale of Two Halves

Syracuse struggled offensively in the first half with inefficient scoring and turnovers. At the half, Syracuse was shooting just under 34% compared to Drexel’s impressive 58%. Three-pointers were not falling for the Orange. The team made only four-of-16 through 20 minutes.

Drexel’s offensive efficiency translated well to behind the arc, as the Dragons converted five-of-nine from deep. Senior guard Megan Marecic accounted for all of Drexel’s threes in the first half. She had 15 points at the half.

Syracuse’s inside scoring was also outmatched by Drexel. The Orange could not stop the inside pass in the first half, giving up 20 points in the paint. On the other end, they could not match the effort, only scoring 10 under the basket.

When the second half began, it looked like two entirely different teams stepped onto the court.

The Orange outscored Drexel 21-to-eight in the third quarter, and got a strong performance from freshman forward Digna Strautmane’s nine points and five rebounds in the quarter.

“A really good second half by our team,” head coach Quentin Hillsman said after the game. “First half we were a little sluggish, I think we didn’t really get out and guard the arc well and close out the shooters like we talked about.”

The shots started to fall for Syracuse, who surged in the second half, shooting 58% from the field and 46% from deep. They outscored the Dragons 39-21 in the second half.

Drexel did not have nearly the success they had in the first half. The Dragons only made a single three point shot and finished the game shooting six-for-21. Marecic, who was lights out in the first 20 minutes, missed all four attempts from deep in the second half.

The Dragons also shot an abysmal 28% from the floor in the second half, making only nine-of-32 tries. Under the basket, the team was also not able to repeat its success, and was outscored by Syracuse 20-16.