3rd quarter spurt keys No. 18 Syracuse’s win over No. 20 Texas A&M

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 14, 2018 at 10:54 pm Contact Billy: [email protected] | @Wheyen3 WHITE PLAINS — In Syracuse’s halftime locker room, head coach Quentin Hillsman drew a “3,” Chennedy Carter’s number, on the board at the front of the room and circled it.Carter, Texas A&M’s reigning National Freshman of the Year, scored 15 points against Syracuse in the first half on Wednesday. The Aggies took a one-point lead into the break.“She was gonna get 35 or 40 points and beat us if we didn’t control the game,” Hillsman said. “… She can win a game by herself, so I was more concerned about that more than anything else.”That concern, and ensuing extra focus, paid off.No. 18 Syracuse (2-1) scored the first 13 points of the second half en route to a 75-65 win over No. 20 Texas A&M (2-1). The Orange won the third quarter by 14 points, and held Carter to three points in the second half. After a late comeback spurt by the Aggies, that third quarter proved to be the decisive blow in the game.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We really wanted to concentrate on closing out short and protecting the paint,” Hillsman said. “… We did a good job in the second half of shrinking the floor.”SU wanted to make Carter work on the defensive end in an effort to slow her offense, Hillsman said. And on the Orange’s first second-half possession, Tiana Mangakahia dribbled right with Carter on her, then crossed back to the left and tried to get to the lane. Carter blocked her, a foul early in the half, and exactly what Hillsman wanted.Moments later, Mangakahia squared up from the top of the key and swished a 3. It put the Orange ahead by two, and from that point, Syracuse didn’t trail again.“I just do what the defense gives me,” Mangakahia said. “So if they’re sagging off, I’ll shoot the 3. If they’re up in my grill, I’ll take it.”Then, it was Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi joining the offense. She caught a pass on the right block, back to the basket and pivoted into the lane. Rising up with two hands, she put the ball off the glass. It took a small bounce on the back rim and went in. The whistle blew for an and-1. Djaldi-Tabdi missed the free throw but had stretched the Orange lead. The redshirt freshman finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds.The Aggies were still scoreless in the half when Djaldi-Tabdi went to down screen for Miranda Drummond a few possessions later. Popping to the top of the key and receiving a pass from Gabrielle Cooper, SU’s leading 3-point shooter from a year ago drained it.Immediately down at the other end, Drummond stole a pass intended for the corner and pushed the floor. She found a cutting Mangakahia, who bounced off contact in the lane and scooped it off the glass with her right hand. The whistle blew, Mangakahia pumped her fist, and the Aggies used a timeout. She made the free throw out of the break, giving the Orange an 11-0 run. Then she gathered an offensive rebound and scored to make it a 13-0 run moments later.“The fact that she pushed the ball helped us run more and push, too,” Djaldi-Tabdi said of Mangakahia.Syracuse didn’t shutout the Aggies in the third, but the Orange kept pushing. Mangakahia led the way with 10 in the frame, including the final bucket when she caught a Djaldi-Tabdi kickout and brought it back to the rim to finish with her right hand again.Mangakahia answered the call at the other end, too, helping the top of the SU 2-3 zone limit Carter in the third. The sophomore missed a 3 from the top, missed a running shot on the right side of the basket, and missed a right-wing 3. Her only points in the quarter came on the second of two free throws midway through the third.“Halftime wasn’t really the result we wanted,” Mangakahia said. “… We adjusted to (Carter) and we came out a little bit more aggressive, and our defense was better when we were guarding her.”The Aggies got within six points in the fourth behind an intense full-court press. But Syracuse had done enough in the third quarter to keep it from getting any closer.Hillsman said that, before the game, he told the Orange it was a must-win. At halftime, he implored them to shut down Carter. SU’s response to the second instruction helped the Orange deliver on the first.“You have to tell them that you expect them to win,” Hillsman said. “… It’s a big win, that’s all I can say.”center_img Commentslast_img read more