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Syracuse women’s basketball team falls to South Dakota State in 2nd round of NCAA Tournament

There was a lot riding on the line during Monday night’s second round NCAA Tournament game between the Syracuse Orange (25-9) and South Dakota State (28-6) inside the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. The Orange, seeking their second trip in the last four years to the Sweet 16 while the Jackrabbits were attempting to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.

In the first quarter both teams came out shooting the ball extremely well. Down 17-16 with less than three minutes remaining, Syracuse went on a 7-0 run and ultimately held a 24-20 advantage at the end of the period. The second quarter fared even better for the Orange, shooting at one point 65 percent from the perimeter.

With five minutes to go Syracuse built a commanding 36-24 lead. However, South Dakota State did not fold under the pressure, answering back with a 9-0 run while Syracuse went scoreless for the final four minutes of the first half.

A lay-up by Jackrabbits forward Tagyn Larson tied the game up at 38-38 with less than nine minutes to go in the third quarter. Syracuse countered with another 7-0 run to regain the lead. The back and forth action continued as South Dakota State charged back with a 13-0 burst. Held without a point for over four minutes, Orange sophomore center Amaya Finklea-Guity squashed the dry spell knocking down a jumper with 1:15 left.

Just when you thought the Jackrabbits would pull away in the fourth quarter, Syracuse had an answer up their sleeve, roaring out to 12-0 run. The Orange switched up defenses going to a full court press that threw South Dakota State off balance and caused several turnovers. With overwhelming home crowd support, Syracuse seemed primed to take control of the contest. Having scored a game-high 21 points against Fordham in the first round on Saturday, junior guard Tiana Mangakahia turned in another impressive performance. tallying her 18th point of the game on a trifecta that put the Orange up 62-59 with less than five minutes to go.

This heavyweight game would take another swerve as the Jackrabbits fought back with a 12-0 run over the next four half minutes to seal the 75-64 victory and make program history. It was not until 29 seconds left in the period that a lay-up by sophomore forward Digna Strautmane ended the scoring drought for Syracuse.

Even in defeat Mangakahia broke an Orange record, becoming the all-time assist leader with 591. Kiara Lewis delivered 13 points while Miranda Drummond added 11 points. After shooting 51 percent in the first half, Syracuse struggled in the second half at 31 percent. Hitting 9 of 14 triples against Fordham, the Orange managed to hit just 5 of 21 in this games. For South Dakota State, Madison Guebert was the leading scorer with 17 points on 6 of 12 shooting and 6 of 10 from beyond the arc. Myah Selland chipped in with 17 points and Macy Miller netted 11 points.

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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