Syracuse dominated inside by No. 4 Notre Dame’s frontcourt in 98-68 loss

first_imgQuentin Hillsman squatted down and stared at the Carrier Corporation logo on the court in front of him. As the Syracuse head coach mindlessly moved his mouth from side to side, he shook his head slightly. His team couldn’t get a rebound. After having success on the boards in the first quarter, the Orange completely lost any hold on the paint in the second. This time, it was Brianna Turner that sent Hillsman into a lost gaze. Her offensive rebound and ensuing put back layup had just given Notre Dame a 42-23 lead, its largest of the game at that point.Hillsman eventually stood up from his squat and turned to face the court, raising his palms up in the air in the process. Syracuse had lost control of the paint and its handle on Notre Dame’s offense.Turner went on to score 22 points and grab eight rebounds to lead the No. 4 Irish’s (26-3, 13-2 Atlantic Coast) inside effort in a 98-68 win against No. 17 Syracuse (20-7, 9-5) on Monday. Notre Dame, paced by Turner and fellow forward Jessica Shepard, who tallied 17 points and 13 rebounds, tormented the Orange in the paint to the tune of 60 points. That included a 32-10 advantage inside in the first half alone, when the Irish used the play of their bigs to spark a game-changing run. “We were trying to find Brianna Turner, and we had an opportunity to go to her quite often,” UND head coach Muffet McGraw said. “… We were trying to go a little more in the high-low game today than shoot perimeter jumpers, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textCorey Henry | Staff PhotographerAll season long, the inside game had been one of Syracuse’s strengths. With the additions of Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi and Emily Engstler to go along with returners Digna Strautmane and Amaya Finklea-Guity, the Orange came into the season with significantly more size than they left last year with. Through its first 26 games, SU’s added height made a major difference on both sides of the ball. Djaldi-Tabdi had been a go-to scorer on the block, Engstler developed into a defensive force and Strautmane had arguably been SU’s most well-rounded big after an offseason of development. Against Notre Dame, though, they took a back seat. Turner and Shepard, along with backup center Mikayla Vaughn, turned in as good a performance inside as Syracuse has faced all season. “They just run good action,” Hillsman said. “They run chin action and double block, and that stuff is really hard to guard.”Arike Ogunbowale, the Irish’s leading scorer, paced the team with 24 points. After a deep 3-pointer early on, the guard looked poised to take over the game, as she’s proven capable of doing. But oftentimes, she deferred to her post players. Shepard, who had five assists during the game, was usually the recipient of Ogunbowale’s passes. She stationed herself on the foul line in the middle of SU’s 2-3 zone and either found Turner on the block or shot the ball herself. Like clockwork, the Notre Dame offense had success time and time again going through her. Twice during the first quarter, Shepard drilled an elbow jumper that gave the Irish the lead. In the third quarter, she showed off her passing skills. Ogunbowale dribbled inside and found the senior on the right block, where she was immediately doubled. But as soon as the ball touched Shepard’s hands, it was gone into Turner’s on the other side of the basket. The slick touch pass elicited an audible gasp from the crowd and gave Notre Dame its largest lead up until that point. “It’s hard to guard when they’re moving the ball fast,” SU guard Tiana Mangakahia said. “That high-low down on the low block, it’s really hard to guard. They did a good job with that.”Hillsman eventually made an adjustment, dropping the Orange out of their zone and into a man-to-man defense to better prevent the Irish from getting wide-open looks inside. But the shift, made late in the third quarter, did little to stop Notre Dame, which scored 16 points in the paint in the final period. Even when it looked like Syracuse had the Irish offense locked inside, Notre Dame found ways to adjust. With just over a minute to go in the third, after SU had switched to one-on-one, Shepard got the ball deep in the post against Djaldi-Tabdi. She immediately turned over her right shoulder and attempted a quick shot but was violently sent back by the Orange forward. The ball fell right back into the hands of Shepard, who didn’t waste her chance to make up for the blocked shot. She took two dribbles and slammed into Djaldi-Tabdi’s stomach after each. Both times, Djaldi-Tabdi was sent backwards, toward the baseline, as Shepard created space. By the time she picked up her second dribble, she was wide open for a second-chance layup.With a chance to notch its first home win against a ranked team, Syracuse’s strongest position group let it down. Against a far-superior Notre Dame front line, it didn’t have a chance. “We gotta get inside and battle against their post players,” Hillsman said. “… You gotta attack a dominant post. You can’t run from them.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on February 25, 2019 at 9:43 pm Contact Eric: [email protected] | @esblack34last_img

Related Post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *