Syracuse falters in third quarter in loss to No. 4 Louisville, 84-77

first_img Published on February 4, 2018 at 3:05 pm Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarez Myisha Hines-Allen dribbled around four Syracuse defenders and looked for the shooter she knew would be there. Asia Durr ran to the top of the key, caught the pass and swished a 3-pointer.Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman called a timeout immediately. The Louisville bench celebrated its then-14 point lead and the Carrier Dome crowd, which briefly thought an upset was possible after the first-half, sat in silence.SU (17-7, 5-6 Atlantic Coast) had kept the game close for the first 20 minutes, but the following 10 was all No. 4 Louisville (24-1, 10-1) needed to leave the Carrier Dome with an 84-77 victory. The Cardinals outscored the Orange by 10 in the third quarter, tripling its half time lead and sinking SU’s upset bid. UofL’s third-quarter success materialized in five more rebounds (12 to 7), a 23-percent higher shooting percentage and more production from its top scorers. “At some point,” Hillsman said, “you got to to make plays, and you got to do the things you got to do to win games. There were points in the third quarter that we didn’t do what we need to do to win the game and dug ourselves a hole. In the fourth we got a few steals and make a couple runs. When you got a hole that deep, you have to make some big runs and our runs weren’t big enough.”Syracuse was only down five at half to a team that usually beats its opponents by 22. This past Thursday, the Cardinals held a four-point lead against Virginia before outscoring the Cavaliers by 32 in the second-half to cruise in Charlottesville, Virginia.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textSU was the victim of a similar second-half slump on Sunday afternoon. Before two late, meaningless Syracuse buckets, the Orange had been outscored by seven points in the second half. The loss marked the first time in six years, and first time since joining the ACC, that SU lost back-to-back home games.Hillsman’s team dug itself a third quarter hole with an 0-for-5 shooting start in the period. Digna Strautmane missed an open jumper, Amaya Finklea-Guity was blocked twice and missed a third shot before Strautmane clanked another try.In a blink-and-you miss-it 9-0 run, Syracuse was floored. The run stopped when Tiana Mangakahia hit an and-1 layup with 7:07 left in the third, but by then it was too late.“At the end of the day,” Hillsman said, “you have a great opportunity on your home floor to beat a very good team you have to win that game. We had some opportunities, we had some spurts where we didn’t play that well.”Louisville knocked down 8-of-16 from beyond the 3-point arc on Sunday in the Carrier Dome.Codie Yan | Staff PhotographerEarly in the game, Syracuse hung with the third-best scoring offense in the ACC. Multiple times in the first quarter, Tiana Mangakahia grabbed the ball on the defensive end, via a rebound or in-bounds and took it down the floor herself and laid it in. She finished the first half with six points, six assists and four rebounds. Before the game, UofL head coach Jeff Walz told local media that the only way to stop Mangakahia was to hope she had the flu.On Jan. 30, Mangakahia said a key to toppling UofL was limiting its transition game and not committing turnovers that would lead to easy baskets. But 11 of Louisville’s 20 fast break points came in the decisive third quarter. “They make plays,” Hillsman said, “they don’t let you off the hook. If there’s a play to be made, they make it. … I thought we played tough. We played tough and with some energy and some urgency. They did a good job of attacking us in the third (quarter) in transition.”The version of Mangakahia that hasn’t played competitive basketball in nearly two years popped up throughout the game. On one play, she spun left, tried to squeeze a pass in-between two defenders that instead resulted in an easy Cardinals layup. The next possession, she charged into her defender and committed another turnover. Mangakahia had almost as many giveaways (10) than Louisville (13).The transition lanes opened up as SU’s legs tired and the Cardinals’ lead ballooned. Just after Mangakahia ended SU’s scoring drought, three passes — Jazmine Jones to Durr to Hines-Allen — resulted in an easy layup. The ball touched the ground once.“If you’re not going to stop them,” SU guard Gabrielle Cooper said, “you at least have to score with them. We weren’t scoring with them or stopping them.”Louisville’s one-two punch, Hines-Allen and Durr, provided the scoring that SU couldn’t keep up with in the third frame. After being limited to 14 points combined in the first half, the duo scored 20 (Hines-Allen with 11 and Durr with nine) in the third and created the separation. Syracuse chipped at the deficit in the fourth, but it rarely dipped below double-digits. Following a steal, Cooper hit a 3-pointer from the base of the ‘Carrier’ sign in front of SU’s bench. UofL threw the ball out of bounds on its next possession and the crowd re-energized. Yet, after a Strautmane miss, Durr connected on a corner 3 and snuffed out the run.The trajectories of Syracuse and Louisville have been eerily similar in the decade since Hillsman and Walz were hired. Both programs were bottom-dwellers in the ACC and were transformed into perennial-NCAA tournament contenders. While SU has flirted with national prominence, UofL has established itself as a top-tier program.Syracuse hung with Louisville for most of Sunday’s game, just like it has with conference teams all season. But when the final buzzer sounded on Sunday afternoon, SU lost — just like it did against Notre Dame, Miami, Virginia, North Carolina State and Virginia Tech — and the status quo was reinforced.Hillsman hasn’t spoken much about the impending NCAA tournament, but he did after SU’s second-straight loss. The 11-year head coach said that 10 conference wins should be enough to comfortably make the 64-team tournament. With five wins in 11 contests and five conference games remaining, SU has created a gauntlet for itself.“Normally,” Hillsman said, “when you get 10, you’re in. You get nine, you got a chance. You get eight, you hope for upsets and a lot of help. We understand that these last five games we have, I think, are very urgent.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more