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Syracuse looks to find consistency in conference play

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on January 17, 2018 at 10:49 pm Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarez For a Syracuse team replacing 86 percent of its scoring from a year ago and 80 percent of its starting lineup, the 2017-18 Orange squad still resembles last season’s. The scoring load has been carried by two players — Tiana Mangakahia and Miranda Drummond — and the team has struggled early on in conference play, specifically on the road.“We have nine, 10 newcomers on the court playing in one of the best conferences in the country,” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “… It’s tough to win on the road.”SU has four losses, all of which have occurred away from the friendly confines of the Carrier Dome. One was a neutral-site game, and the rest have been on the courts of conference opponents. Last year, Syracuse won just one of its first four conference road games. Hillsman doesn’t think it’s an issue. He argues that his team has no bad losses and even one upset win. But SU still hasn’t cracked the Associated Press Top 25 poll and it currently sits eighth in the ACC standings.When Syracuse (14-4, 2-3 Atlantic Coast) travels to Coral Gables, Florida to take on Miami on Thursday night and returns home to face Pittsburgh on Sunday, it has a chance to defeat two of the lesser teams in the conference and find the consistency it has lacked so far in conference play. Last year, SU played then-No. 14 Miami following two conference road losses and routed the Hurricanes, 81-48, in the Carrier Dome. Since then, Miami has graduated three starters and is 10th in the ACC.“We’re there most of those games and we have a chance to win at the end of the game,” Hillsman said. “… We have to finish the game and be tougher.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThe Orange sprinted out to its best start in eight years (11-0) before falling to then-No.5 Mississippi State in Las Vegas on Dec. 21. After being outpaced by the Bulldogs, 76-65, SU bounced back with a win against UNLV to close out its non-conference schedule. But since then, the Orange has sputtered, tallying a 2-3 record to start conference play.In its first conference matchup against then-No. 2 Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, the Orange were gashed down low and allowed 48 points inside the paint. Mangakahia was the only player to score more than 15 points but committed eight turnovers. Despite leading by one in the third quarter, the Orange allowed a 10-0 Irish run and ended up losing by 15. After the contest, which took place on Dec. 28, Hillsman said his team had to do a better job of closing out games.Three days later against Virginia in Charlottesville, SU’s offense wilted in the fourth quarter and connected on just four of 14 shots. Mangakahia, again, was the majority of SU’s offense but she shot just 33 percent from the field and committed 12 turnovers, five of which came in the final frame. The back-to-back losses marked the first time in three years that SU started conference play 0-2.After the game, Hillsman again noted that his team couldn’t close it out. The 12-year head coach cited a play down the stretch, with SU down by a possession and UVA at the free-throw line, when J’Kyra Brown missed but the Cavaliers got it back after the Orange couldn’t secure the rebound.Syracuse returned home and won its first two conference games of the year in the Carrier Dome against Georgia Tech and then-No. 11 Florida State. Those victories came off two stellar scoring outbursts from Mangakahia and Drummond that Hillsman isn’t “trying to figure out.”“When I’m not having a good day or Miranda isn’t,” Mangakahia said, “I think we can all step up and contribute.”On Jan. 14, against North Carolina State, Mangakahia and Drummond were limited to 27 combined points and no other scorer reached double-digits. The Orange led at half, but still were outrebounded and fell in Raleigh, North Carolina.SU’s upcoming stretch would be an opportune time to find the steadiness it has needed and get above .500 in the ACC. SU’s next five opponents are a combined 6-18 against other teams in conference.  After Miami and Pittsburgh, Syracuse faces Clemson, Boston College and Virginia Tech. Two of those games, Miami and Boston College, will be away from the Carrier Dome and test the Orange’s ability to close out games on the road. If Syracuse looks to prove itself as an upper-echelon team in the ACC, it will need to.“It’s a long conference season,” Hillsman said. “There’s a lot of basketball left to play. We’re trying to stay healthy and get through these games and compete at the highest level.” Commentslast_img read more

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Carabao Cup: Rashford scores stunning free-kick as Man United beat Chelsea

first_imgMarcus Rashford scored a stunning free-kick and a penalty as Manchester United knocked Chelsea out of the Carabao Cup with a 2-1 win at Stamford Bridge.The England striker put the Red Devils in front from the spot after Daniel James was felled by Marcos Alonso inside the Blues penalty area in the 26th minute.Chelsea hauled themselves level through Michy Batshuayi after the Belgian held off four visiting defenders to drill into the bottom corner from 20 yards.But Rashford’s stunning free-kick ended Chelsea’s seven-match winning streak as they failed to get a measure of revenge on United for their 4-0 defeat on the opening day of the season.The teams have gone in opposite directions since then, with United struggling for form while Chelsea are fourth in the Premier League and joint top of their Champions League group.However, it is now three straight wins – all away from home – for United to further ease the pressure on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.In a shift from the usual Carabao Cup policy adopted the bigger clubs, Blues boss Frank Lampard rested his younger players with Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori, all central to their recent winning run, dropping out of the starting line-up.Yet both managers named strong sides, illustrating just how important they saw this match in the context of their seasons.United took a 25th-minute lead after Daniel James won a penalty, the winger getting across Marcos Alonso in the area before tumbling to the deck.Rashford may have missed a spot-kick against Norwich at the weekend, but he showed no sign of nerves as he calmly sent Willy Caballero the wrong way.Solskjaer handed a start to Brandon Williams and the teenager made his mark on Callum Hudson-Odoi after the interval, throwing the Chelsea winger over the advertising hoardings yet somehow avoiding a yellow card.Hudson-Odoi should have taken immediate revenge when Alonso crossed low into the box but he miskicked horribly in front of goal.Chelsea had built up a head of steam and Billy Gilmour’s drive was bravely blocked by Marcos Rojo before Christian Pulisic, the hat-trick hero at Burnley on Saturday, dragged a shot wide.Pulisic then sent Hudson-Odoi through with a fine ball over the top but the wideman’s dipping effort dropped too late.They got their equaliser on the hour mark, Batshuayi nodding on Caballero’s clearance before turning away from Harry Maguire.The Belgian frontman outstripped Maguire and Victor Lindelof before firing past Rojo and into the corner of Sergio Romero’s net.But Rashford settled the match in the 73rd minute in spectacular fashion, lifting his shot over the wall and underneath Caballero’s crossbar before sliding on his knees in celebration in front of a delirious away end. Source: talkSPORTlast_img read more

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