first_img Comments Tiana Mangakahia crashed to the floor, sliding past the baseline before coming to a stop near the basket stanchion. Gabrielle Cooper and Miranda Drummond rushed to her side, offering to help her up, but Mangakahia waived them off.She was in the middle of her 38th minute in the game and just picked off a pass before getting fouled to shoot the potential game-tying free throws. They’d have to wait though. She needed a break.“I was tired,” Mangakahia said. “When the whistle blows, you can take a breath and breathe.”Poor play by No. 16 Syracuse’s (18-6, 7-4 Atlantic Coast) reserves forced SU head coach Quentin Hillsman to play his starters more minutes, including a season-high 38 by his starting point guard. While Syracuse’s bench produces more than 40 percent of its points this season, the Orange’s bench on Wednesday scored just 18 points on 27 percent shooting in their 77-73 loss to No. 12 North Carolina State (22-2, 9-2).Syracuse’s depth, which for most of the season had been one of its greatest strengths, let them down against the Wolfpack. In a game in which NC State played just two bench players and neither of them scored a point, SU’s bench rotation failed to make any significant impact on either end of the floor. In turn, players like Mangakahia and Strautmane played more minutes than usual, and their play suffered down the stretch.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“Missing shots, we’re fouling them in the paint, we missed some layups, missed some free throws down the stretch,” Hillsman said. “…When you play that way, it’s gonna bite you.”All season long, Syracuse has had consistent strong play from its bench players. After redshirting last season, Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi has been Syracuse’s best post scorer this year and the first big off the bench. Against NC State, her struggles from the field (3-of-9 shooting) limited her playing time to just 15 minutes. Kiara Lewis, a transfer from Ohio State, also failed to find her shot against the Wolfpack. The point guard came into Wednesday’s game averaging 8.1 points, fifth-best on the team, but made just one of her seven shots and none of her three 3-pointers.Eventually, the struggles and sluggishness prompted Hillsman to insert Raven Fox into the game to serve as a spark. Fox had played just 76 minutes this season but was inserted to inject life into a Syracuse team that desperately needed it. “Just (needed) some energy,” Hillsman said. “She came in, she got a really good crash down when they had a dump down…You put your players in the game, put them in position to where they could be successful, and do the best they can do.”But Fox’s energy did little to aid Syracuse’s offensive deficiency that transpired late in the game. She missed her first two shots before hitting a third, but she was taken out after just two minutes and never reentered the game. The absence of Kadiatou Sissoko also hurt SU’s bench against the Wolfpack. The France native, who was in of the better stretches of her freshman season, missed Wednesday’s game after her surgically-repaired knee swelled up after Sunday’s game against Boston College. Against an NC State team that out-rebounded the Orange by 16, Hillsman could’ve used another presence in the paint.“(Sissoko’s absence) definitely matters,” Hillsman said. “Anytime you can matchup with some size and athleticism in the paint, you have to try to do that.”The second quarter saw the Orange shoot a game-high 53.3 percent from the field, and a Mangakahia 3-pointer with eight seconds left gave them a two-point lead at the break. But as the second half drew on, Hillsman increasingly lacked options when he looked down his bench. Oftentimes, he glared down the sideline at his players as if he was about to make a substitution, but instead would turn away, back to the court, without making a change. That forced Mangakahia to take on much of the scoring load herself. She scored 10 of Syracuse’s 16 fourth-quarter points, including a steal and layup that cut SU’s lead to two. But that was the closest the Orange got the rest of the game as the Wolfpack pulled away. After catching her breath on the ground, Mangakahia missed the first of two free throws that could’ve tied the game. On the following possession, she dribbled past a defender and looked open for a layup but was caught by a NC State defender who blocked her shot. Her scoring burst, and Syracuse’s chances at its first home victory against a ranked team, were gone. “When we get a bit more of a rest throughout the game, it helps us in the end,” Mangakahia said. “Coach obviously has trust in us … we just couldn’t get the win.” Facebook Twitter Google+center_img Published on February 13, 2019 at 10:46 pm Contact Eric: [email protected] | @esblack34last_img