Syracuse overcomes 20-point deficit but still loses 71-69 to No. 22 WVU

Posted On Sep 16 2020 by

first_img Published on December 22, 2019 at 5:16 pm Contact Andrew: arcrane@syr.edu | @CraneAndrew After Amaya Finklea-Guity backed in her West Virginia defender and finished a left-handed layup in the opening minute of the fourth quarter, Syracuse’s comeback was complete. The Mountaineers had led by as many as 20 points and threatened to pull away early, but the gradual trimming of that deficit had finally ended.After Kiara Lewis inbounded the pass and Teisha Hyman dished it into the paint for Finklea-Guity, the Orange had their first lead since 6-5 in the opening minutes.But when Lewis dribbled outside the paint with 15 seconds left and the Orange down two, Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi was called for a three-second violation. Then, an Emily Engstler 3-pointer bounced out at the buzzer. The stark contrast between the opening quarter and the next three gave the Orange enough time to cut the lead, but the massive comeback still ended in another ranked loss for the Orange as they closed out nonconference play. Four-for-27 shooting from behind the arc mitigated Kiara Lewis’ career-high 32 points, and the Orange (6-5) failed to capitalize on an opportunity to enter No. 6 Louisville coming off back-to-back Top 25 wins, losing 71-69 to the Mountaineers (9-1).“It’s about closing games out, it’s about finishing things off,” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said after the game. “That’s the disappointing part.”Opposed to Friday’s win against No. 19 Michigan State, when the Orange jumped out to a 20-6 lead just seven minutes in, West Virginia was the team that started strong Sunday. The Mountaineers used a 14-0 run and capitalized off an almost-eight-minute field goal drought from the Orange to build a quick 17-7 lead. Ksyre Gondrezick and Madisen Smith combined for 3 3-pointers, and WVU forced Engstler into three personal fouls by the end of the first frame.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textTaleah Washington tried to end the scoring drought, shooting a 3-pointer with 2:24 left. Engstler grabbed the rebound off the missed shot, and launched up a 3 herself, but also missed. Errors on layups by Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi and a travel by Engstler only compounded those outside misses. Two Syracuse field goals in the opening 10 minutes marked their lowest output in a frame this season.The second quarter picked up right where the first left off. West Virginia made two quick 3s and Syracuse’s shots continued to bounce off. The scoring run reached 20-0, until a Lewis pass to Djaldi-Tabdi ended with a made layup in the paint. From there, the Orange started to mount their comeback.With less than a minute in the half, the shot clock nearing zero and the ball still behind the 3-point line, Lewis had no choice but to launch a shot. Syracuse’s offense had stalled again. Digna Strautmane popped out, Gabrielle Cooper rotated into a pass, but that didn’t lead to anything.The buzzer sounded as Lewis’ shot soared through the air, bouncing harmlessly onto the ground without hitting any part of the backboard or rim. She subbed out with just nine seconds left after scoring 17 of Syracuse’s 25 points in the first half, but it was another turnover that extinguished the Orange’s chance to cut into West Virginia’s lead. The deficit was still 12, but SU had clawed back to as little as eight in the quarter’s latter half.When Engstler floated a shot off the backboard for Syracuse’s first points of the second half, the comeback continued. Lewis willed the Orange back into the game. Her driving layups and and-one free throws nearly closed SU’s deficit almost single handedly. In the final two minutes of the third quarter, Lewis drew two fouls — including one on an and-one to give her a new career-high. When Cooper put in a layup after grabbing an offensive rebound, the deficit became one.“(We) really came out in the second half and played with aggression,” Hillsman said.After the Orange took the lead on their first possession of the fourth quarter, a back-and-forth game ensued, continuing until Engstler’s final shot rang out. WVU grabbed the lead off a 3, but then Digna Strautmane responded with one of her own. Tynice Martin made a shot, but then Finklea-Guity followed with one too.The Orange went up one with 45 seconds left — after Lewis crossed over, spun and euro-stepped through the Mountaineer defense — but three foul shots returned the lead to WVU. And after Engstler’s shot tried to sneak through the right side of the backboard and rim, it was enough. Only Finklea-Guity’s 10 points complemented Lewis in double-digits, and the scoring balance that has defined early-season Syracuse wins was nowhere to be found in the final game of the Florida Sunshine Classic.“We’re not here without her,” Hillsman said about Lewis. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more