Syracuse tops Virginia Tech with late comeback effort

Orange Nation

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (SYRACUSE ATHLETICS) – It took over 39 minutes, a full team effort, and a wild fourth quarter, but Syracuse topped Virginia Tech 67-65 Thursday night in the Carrier Dome to improve to 10-10 on the year and 4-5 in ACC play. Syracuse erased a 16 point deficit in the fourth en route to the victory, the final effort led by Kiara Lewis and Amaya Finklea-Guity. VT drops to 15-5, 5-4 ACC with the loss.

“This game was all about our players having a will to win and being competitive,” head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “We were down 16 points with 12 minutes left in the game and it could have gone either way—and we’ve had some games that we’ve been in before that have gone the wrong way—but our kids just came out and gutted out a win. Virginia Tech is a really good basketball team and Kenny Brooks is a really good coach. He had his guys playing really well. He’s done a great job, he’s a great friend, and I’m really happy for his success. When we’re playing together, it’s just about being competitors and trying to win the basketball game and our kids really came through for us tonight.
“I’m happy with our effort. Kiara stayed strong, made big plays and scored the ball in the paint effectively,” Hillsman added. “I’m really happy for our team’s fight. They really poured it out and this is all them. They competed at a tremendously high level.”

Of Note:

Syracuse trailed the entire game until the final five seconds when Lewis gave ‘Cuse the lead.
Kiara Lewis recorded her 100th assist of the season tonight. Lewis also sank her first five shot from the charity stripe to finish 6-for-7 from the line. Her 19 points paced scoring across both teams and marked her 19th double-digit outing of the season.
Amaya Finklea-Guity entered tonight averaging a block per game. She finished with three swats. This was also her fifth double-figure game of the year, and first since December 22. Her 13 points tied her season high.
Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi recorded her 450th point tonight. The redshirt sophomore finished with 12 points.
Syracuse had three shooters in double digits tonight in Lewis, Finklea-Guity, Djadli-Tabdi.
Virginia Tech’s Taja Cole was just shy of a triple double. She finished with nine points, 10 boards and nine assists.

How it happened:
It was another point-for-point opening for Syracuse, with a noticeable defensive presence from the Hokies on the display in the opening 10 minutes. The visitors out rebounded ‘Cuse 16-8 in the first period and limited the hosts to just 20 percent from the field.
VT used a 6-point push to go up 21-13 midway through the second period but Syracuse used a 8-0 run of its own to tie the game at 21, Kiara Lewis contributing six of those points. The Hokies kept the pressure on and worked a 8-0 run to retake the lead, 29-21, with three minutes till halftime. Thirteen points later, the teams entered their locker rooms with the Hokies ahead 36-27.
VT shot for 47 percent in the first half, Alex Obouh Fegue leading the game with eight points, followed by Trinity Baptiste (seven) and Cayla King (six). Lewis, Digna Strautmane and Djaldi-Tabdi all recorded six points in the opening 20, and Emily Engstler grabbed six boards. The Hokies maintained control of the rebound game, out nabbing Syracuse 28-16.
Syracuse came out in the third with a second wind and was shooting 50 percent midway through the third stanza. The sudden spark in offense didn’t shake the Hokies though, VT maintaining a 10-point advantage until an eight point push put them ahead 51-35 with just under three minutes left in the third.
Syracuse opened the final quarter down 56-45 but used a huge 16-7 effort to close the deficit to just one field goal, 63-61, with two minutes to play. Finklea-Guity and Lewis led the push with six and five points each, respectively. With a minute left to play, Djaldi-Tabdi sank a layup to tie the game at 65, closing the 16 point deficit.
Lewis ran the clock down and used a screen from Engslter to drive in the final layup of the night with four seconds left to put Syracuse ahead. VT then inbounded the ball and looked to Aisha Sheppard to spoil the fun, but her shot didn’t fall and Syracuse celebrated its seventh home win of the year.

Up Next:
The Orange return to action Sunday when they travel to Charlottesville, Va. to play Virginia at 2 p.m. Fans can watch the game on ACC Network Extra.

Up Next in the Dome:
The Orange return to the Carrier Dome Sunday, Feb. 9 to host Louisville at 2 p.m. (ESPN2, ACCN) for National Girls and Women in Sports Day. Tickets for the game start at $10 for adults and $5 for youth under 12.

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