New faces flourish in opening game for Syracuse women's basketball

The Orange had 87 points from new players.

Syracuse women’s basketball opened its season looking confident after grabbing a 95-68 win over Morgan State.

A team composed of primarily back ups from last year and new players saw off the Bears, with five Orange players scoring double digits.

Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman, in his 12th year at the helm of the Syracuse program, looked at the positives from what he saw from the team in its first game.

“I was very pleased with their effort from the first game,” Coach Hillsman said.

The productivity came from two of the newest faces to the team. Freshman forward Digna Strautmane scored her first points for the Orange right off the opening tip off, dribbling the ball fast to the hoop before pulling up and floating it in.

Tiana Mangakahia, sophomore guard from Meadowbrook Australia, also had a great debut for the Orange. Mangakahia had six points and ten assists, leading the team in assists. This was Mangakahia’s first game in two years, and she was really pleased to be back on the court.

“Tiana did a really good job getting our players open looks. Her job is to get in the paint because that’s the way we play,” Coach Hillsman said.

Mangakahia was pleased to return to the court. Following her time in Australia, she practiced at Hutchinson Community College. However, she’s taking the leading role on her new team.

“I like that he trusts me and I can lead the team. I also like to get my teammates involved on the floor,” Mangakahia said.

Syracuse recorded 30 rebounds in the first half, 19 off the offensive glass. A majority of these opportunities came off missed three-pointers, which definitely was a weak part of their game. 

Syracuse missed its opening 13 3-point shots until redshirt junior guard Isis Young hit two in a row. However, they finished the first half under 15 percent from beyond the arc.

Defensively, their full court press worked efficiently, forcing Morgan State to turn the ball over 29 times. Syracuse took advantage of these extra opportunities, scoring 39 points off turnovers.

“We’re very pleased with the pace and the effort,” Coach Hillsman said.

One main difference from last year was the depth of the team. While last year they had six or seven stars, 12 members of the Orange were on the court tonight.

The third quarter started off strong again for the Orange, with Strautmane leading the way. She grabbed her first two points that quarter the same she did in the first quarter, driving to the hoop and dropping the ball in from about ten-feet out. She finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

“It was fun for the first game. We’re going to get better as a team,” Strautmane said.

While their three-point struggles continued (finished 6 for 36 in the game), there were times of magic. Young found the slightest bit of room under two Bears players, throwing the ball up off the glass.

One returning Orange struggled offensively. Sophomore guard Gabby Cooper only played 17 minutes after getting in foul trouble early. She didn’t hit her first field goal until the fourth quarter, but her three point make gave her the confidence to get another.

Syracuse play its next game on Nov. 16 against Maryland Eastern Shore at 7 p.m. 

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