first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Tiana Mangakahia drove hard with her right hand into the paint, bringing three Boston College defenders along with her. Sensing the pressure, Mangakahia stopped on a dime and turned her left shoulder. She immediately found Gabrielle Cooper on the wing, where the shooting guard then knocked down a triple.On the next Syracuse trip down the court, Mangakahia pushed the ball upcourt ahead of the Eagles’ defense before finding Digna Strautmane in the paint for two. Just over a minute later, SU center Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi found Miranda Drummond for one of her six 3s on the day. No matter who handled the ball, it seemed as though SU earned a good look at the basket on every possession.Led by Mangakahia’s 12 assists, No. 15 Syracuse (18-5, 7-3 Atlantic Coast) defeated Boston College (14-10, 3-8), 96-69, and saw its offense run smoothly for the first time in nearly a month. The Orange shot 60.6 percent from the field, a season-high. Dribble drives led to open shots in the paint. Extra passes led to open 3s along the perimeter. And most importantly, open shots finally started to drop for the Orange.“We got our pace, we played fast,” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “You want to play fast and be efficient, and I thought tonight we were pretty efficient, getting our 3-point shooting back.”The game served as a change-of-pace for a Syracuse team that was in the middle of its worst shooting slump all season. Ever since its win against Pittsburgh on Jan. 17, the Orange struggled on offense and lost their shooting touch from deep. Three days after its win against the Panthers, SU dropped its first ACC game of the season, shooting a season-low 23.9 percent in the process.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhen it returned home against Miami, the stagnancy continued. This time, the struggles came from behind the arc. Syracuse made just 5-of-32 attempts, another season-low shooting performance, and lost by 13. “We got to make some shots,” Hillsman said after the loss to Miami. “We’re not shooting the ball well. We gotta get it fixed.”Susie Teuscher | Digital Design EditorBut until Sunday, the adjustment never came. Even in its wins, SU had cold stretches from the floor. Against Duke on Jan. 27 and Virginia on Jan. 31, the Orange secured two-much needed victories versus two of the worst teams in the ACC, shooting 39.8 percent combined. The momentum Syracuse had possibly gained from its wins were immediately halted in its next game against No. 2 Louisville, when SU was dominated by 25.That brought the Orange offense into Sunday’s game in a state of uncertainty. Their fast-paced, 3-point-centric offense had struggled five games in a row, directly in the heart of its ACC slate, and while Hillsman was optimistic it’d come around soon, he didn’t have much to back it up with.Against Boston College, his faith was validated. The outburst began from the opening tip. On the first possession of the game, Mangakahia fed Amaya Finklea-Guity for a layup. On the next, the point guard found Drummond on the left wing for her first 3 of the game. By the end of the first quarter, Mangakahia had found Drummond three separate times for triples, and had seven total assists. She ultimately finished with a dozen helpers and took just four shots. “When I feel like I need to score I try to help the team by scoring,” Mangakahia said. “This game I didn’t feel like I had to do that. Miranda was on.”Drummond scored 18 points in the first half alone — all via the deep ball. In the second half, Drummond led a team-wide shift in gameplan, from the outside to the inside. She took just two 3-pointers in the second half, opting instead to go in the paint, where she scored three times in the final 20 minutes. As a team, Syracuse also shied away from shooting from deep — SU attempted just nine 3s in the second half — and it marked another point of improvement offensively. Instead of trying and failing to get their shots from deep to go, like the Orange did when it missed 27 3s against Miami, they slowed their rate of attempts and focused on what was working for them — post scoring.“We kind of just buckled down, and got more serious,” Drummond said. “It’s getting late in the season and every loss is not good, so we’re trying to win as many as we can.”Propped up by Mangakahia, Syracuse totaled 25 assists, the most its produced in a game since Dec. 5. Mangakahia said the team has shot more after practice and getting up extra shots because of its recent cold stretch, heeding Hillsman’s commands. In return, SU’s 12 3-pointers were its highest total since early January.“I just know that that’s not us,” Hillsman said about Syracuse’s struggles on offense. “So no matter what happens, how we shoot the ball, I know that we’re a good shooting team, and I just know that we’re gonna get going again, because that’s what we do.”Early in the fourth quarter, with his team up by 26 points, Hillsman yelled “move it!” to SU’s half court offense. His players did, passing the ball around the perimeter and eventually finding Strautmane on the right block. She dribbled once, ball faked and faded away before nailing a jumper that just squeaked over the lip of the rim. For a split-second, Hillsman cracked a smile. Syracuse’s offense, at least for now, was back to running the way it always had the potential to. Commentscenter_img Published on February 10, 2019 at 3:46 pm Contact Eric: [email protected] | @esblack34last_img

No. 15 Syracuse breaks out of shooting slump, defeats Boston College, 96-69

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