The Syracuse Orange women’s basketball team beat the Pittsburgh Panthers 71-67 in Pittsburgh on Sunday. They mounted an epic comeback after trailing by 15 points with 7:17 remaining in the second quarter. The 71-67 Cuse victory went down to the wire with free throws deciding the ballgame in the final seconds.
Though stagnated to start, Kiara Lewis and Kamilla Cardoso led the Orange, both scoring 22 points. Cardoso also recorded eight rebounds, five of which came on offense. Point guard Tiana Mangakahia‘s 11 assists came through clutch with three setting up some insurance buckets in the fourth quarter.
As with many games this past season, Emily Engstler has proved herself to be an important piece of the Cuse roster, putting up double digits daily off of the bench. She scored 13 points, however her defense materialized in crunch time: with 2:24 to go in regulation she swatted a clutch block on an Amber Brown layup attempt.
Cuse jumped out of the gate to a strong start. The Orange forced a turnover on the first possession and ran the score to 5-0. Pitt soon recovered, though, with a 21-1 run, leaping out to a 21-6 lead.
Cardoso scored 10 straight points to bring the score back to being manageable, but Pitt’s Jayla Everett and Destiny Strother kept the game at a distance, pushing the Panthers to a halftime lead of 30-22.
In the second half, the Pitt defense, which had not broken in the first half, faced difficulties as the Orange figured out their zone. Syracuse guards drove to the paint only to dish passes out to their shooters for long-range jump shots and three-pointers. A couple of free throws from Lewis with just six seconds left in the third quarter granted Cuse their first lead since the beginning minutes of action in the first.
Heading into the late minutes of the fourth, the Panther’s Gabby Green and Everett launched a barrage of scoring. Their efforts brought the game to a one-point contest with only 52 seconds left, but their final drive left them hollow: Strother missed a wide-open three, resulting in Cuse’s Engstler snagging the rebound and being fouled by Dayshanette Harris. The ensuing free throws sealed the deal as Engstler pushed the lead to four with just five seconds remaining.
Cuse took the win on the road, advancing their record to 11-4, 8-4 in A.C.C. play. Pitt dropped to 4-7, 2-6 in A.C.C. play. With Sunday’s win, Syracuse has won the last 20 matchups with Pitt. They now sit at fourth in the A.C.C. this season, however they still sit outside the top 25.