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Acting head coach Vonn Read wasn’t sure how the team would respond after the “emotional high” of Syracuse’s upset win over then-No. 18 Ohio State. Then the team proceeded to score the most points in program history in a single game and watched as Teisha Hyman came two rebounds short of a quadruple-double.
The Orange easily cruised to an 85-55 nonconference victory against Cornell on Wednesday night, capping off a stretch of eight-straight nonconference opponents. It was another letdown game that Read referenced, but SU continued its success against non-Power 5 opponents.
Syracuse now turns its sights to its second Atlantic Coast Conference opponent on Saturday when it hosts Clemson. The Orange are at a point in their season where the players and Read believe the team is finally finding an identity and building chemistry. Prior to the Orange’s (6-4, 0-1 ACC) matchup with the Tigers (5-3), here’s what you need to know about SU’s next conference opponent.
Syracuse leads 9-1.
Last time they played
Syracuse won its first nine matchups against the Tigers since joining the ACC, but last year, Clemson broke that streak to upset then-No. 23 SU in overtime. Syracuse quickly fell behind in the first quarter and entered halftime with a 25-point deficit. Led by Kiara Lewis — who now plays for Clemson — the Orange stormed back to send the game to overtime, holding the Tigers to just 18 second half points.
But Syracuse fell flat in the overtime period and lost by nine points. The Orange ended up shooting just 25% from deep, and despite Clemson’s bench contributing just four points, they couldn’t close out the Tigers. Emily Engstler shot 8-for-11 from the field, tallying 17 points and nine rebounds. Tiana Mangakahia finished with 10 assists, her fourth consecutive game with double-digit assists.
The Tigers report
The Tigers have gotten off to a rocky start this season after earning a second-round Women’s National Invitation Tournament birth last season. They lost a stunning game to Columbia after putting up an abysmal shooting performance, shooting just 1-for-12 from deep. Then, Clemson lost to Northwestern in the Big 10/ACC Challenge in another terrible performance from beyond the arc. The Tigers are a middle-of-the-pack team offensively with an offensive rating of just 94.6, according to Her Hoop Stats. However, Clemson is another team, like Cornell, that has struggled shooting in the early on this season.
They rank 343rd in the country in 3-point shooting percentage, and have an effective field goal rate of 41.6%, per Her Hoop Stats. Clemson’s strong suit, and how they’ve defeated inferior nonconference opponents, is its presence on the boards. They’re seventh in the country in offensive rebounds per game and average 41.5 total boards per game.
How Syracuse beats Clemson
Syracuse seems to have found its stride defensively, an area Read said prior to the season that the team would need to work on. The Orange have the offensive side of things down, and they can capitalize on their improved shooting from deep against a Tiger team that allows 34.1% shooting from 3 against its opponents. Syracuse will just need to remain consistent in its 2-3 zone, forcing Clemson to take shots from areas on the court it has been abysmal from.
As long as Syracuse’s guards continue to rebound at a rate it has in previous contests, it will easily mitigate the potent presence Clemson has on the boards to beat its first ACC opponent of the season. Hyman, for all her recent offensive success, continues to say she loves to play defense. Reading opponents as they come up the court and reacting with the flow of their offensive scheme is what she’s best at, she said.
Player to watch: Delicia Washington, guard
Clemson’s graduate senior returned after being named to the All-ACC Second Team and the All-Regional Team in the Charlotte region of the WNIT. Replicating her success from last year, she leads the Tigers with 14.1 points and seven rebounds per game. Washington is an untraditional guard, and she is just 1-for-12 from beyond the arc. But she makes up for her poor shooting from deep by connecting on 45.9% of attempts from the field, a rate that leads all Tiger starters.
In wins against Penn State and North Florida, she notched a double-double. However, she’s coming off a game against Presbyterian where she scored just two points while pulling down six rebounds.
Stat to know: 3.5 three-pointers per game
As mentioned previously, Clemson has left nearly everything to be desired in its shooting from long range. But the Tigers hardly pull up from deep. The tried and true tactic against a 2-3 Syracuse zone, be it Jim Boeheim’s or Read’s, is to shoot out of it. That would place Clemson far out of its trend through the first nine games. Gabby Elliott leads the Tigers in three-pointers attempted with 31, while three Syracuse players have recorded more than that.
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