Published on March 1, 2018 at 4:15 pm Contact Nick: [email protected] | @nick_a_alvarez Facebook Twitter Google+ GREENSBORO, N.C. — Gabrielle Cooper slouched in her locker with her arms folded. She stared straight ahead at a wall. Her teammates sat around her in a semi-circle, their voices were low, the mood half-ominous, half-shocked.A Syracuse offense that entered the game fourth in the conference in points per game (73.8) and recorded 65 through 30 minutes on Thursday went ice cold in the fourth quarter.SU mustered five points, all on free throws, no field goals and was booted from the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament searching for answers after the final frame.Throughout the fourth quarter, No. 8 seed Syracuse (22-8, 10-6 ACC) watched helplessly as No. 9 seed Virginia Tech (18-12, 6-10), roared back and eventually cruised to an upset victory, 85-70, in the Greensboro Coliseum. After shooting greater than 50-percent in the third quarter, the Orange went 0-for-16 in the decisive fourth, while the Hokies scored 29 points as part of a 31-5 extended run stretching back to the third quarter.Back in Orange the locker room, the players reflected on how they choked away what seemed like a sure-fire quarterfinal berth.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We didn’t expect to be going home today,” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “We expected to be playing further.”One month ago, the Hokies stomped into the Carrier Dome, took advantage of Orange bricks and scored at will in the paint. The 73-64 loss was the first time in 12 games, dating back to last season, that SU lost at home. Thursday’s contest was a chance at redemption.The Orange offense was clicking early. Tiana Mangakahia, who earned an All-ACC First Team selection this week, dazzled. She added nine assists to her record-setting total, including seven after one half. Digna Strautmane, who was named to an all-freshman team, added 16 and gave the Hokies fits inside. The duo ran a pick-and-roll repeatedly, and forced Virginia Tech to make a choice: Mangakahia or Strautmane.It chose the star point guard and Mangakahia made them pay, firing passes inside and allowing Strautmane to bank in easy layups. In reserve, Isis Young rounded out the attack, scoring 11 of SU’s 16 bench points behind two 3s, attempting to push the game out of reach.In the Carrier Dome, Syracuse shot 8-of-43 from 3 against the Hokies. On Thursday, at the end of the first half, SU had made seven of 18 attempts en route to a 48-34 halftime lead. Despite the double-digit deficit, Virginia Tech wasn’t worried. It knew its opportunity would reveal itself in the second half.“We knew Syracuse was going to come out and pressure us and take us out of our rhythm, early,” Hokies head coach Kenny Brooks said. “We knew that. It’s hard to do that for 40 minutes. We knew that once we got into a groove … we would be able to execute more of our offense.”Virginia Tech showcased new “wrinkles” in its offense after the break, Brooks said. The Hokies decided to attack the paint, converting on six layups against little SU resistance and almost seizing momentum. Syracuse had trouble matching up inside, Hillsman said.Syracuse featured its full-court press for most of the game, but it was inconsistent. Hillsman at times yelled at multiple players for not filling a gap at midcourt. At one point, Hillsman hollered at Cooper and clasped his hands together. The signs of the collapse were present early, but SU’s hot shooting masked it for the time being.When the Hokies looked inside, and the Orange’s shooters cooled, the underdogs took advantage.VT found success when these two teams matched up last time by diving inside and making layups. They copy-and-pasted the same gameplan and SU was dumbfounded. Postgame, Hillsman used the term “cross-matching” — SU letting bigs defend the wings — to describe what Virginia Tech did so well.“They were attacking a lot more,” junior forward Miranda Drummond said. “… They were being more aggressive, they were finding the open shooter and we weren’t defending them the way we should’ve.”With a weakened defense, the Hokies took advantage late in the third. When Taylor Emery, who finished with 28 points, muscled her way inside and cut the deficit to nine, a fan sitting courtside looked at his friend and smiled.“Here they come,” he said.Rachel Camp opened the fourth with two free throws, slicing the Orange lead to seven. Aisha Sheppard knocked down a 3-ball, making it a four-point game. Emery followed with a deep ball of her own to bring the Hokies within one.During the run, the Virginia Tech band and bench cheered louder and louder. Those on the Orange bench exchanged nervous glances and willed their teammates with claps, trying to weather a storm.Following a 3-point miss by Young, Taylor Emery, as she had done all game, muscled her way inside and kissed it off the glass. She gave Virginia Tech its first lead since the first quarter and an assistant coach stood up and yelled, waving his hands. SU was missing the shots it had made all game and the Hokies was making it pay.“It’s really hard to match up when they were in transition,” Hillsman said. “ … We couldn’t make shots to get into our pressure.”The sudden lead ballooned to eight, then 10. Hillsman called two timeouts to stop the bleeding, but nothing worked. On the offensive end, the Orange was stumped by another one of Brooks’ wrinkles: a box-and-one.To counteract Mangakahia, the Hokies constantly dedicated two defenders to her. Once she passed the ball, she was forced out of the play, unable to get it back, she said. They also forced her left and Syracuse, as Brooks put it, veered away from its offense and was in “desperation mode,” throwing up low-percentage 3s. The game had slowed down to SU’s detriment, Young said.“I don’t think that we really moved the ball a lot in the fourth quarter,” Young said. “I think people were shooting quick shots or quick layups or quick 3s. … We were forced to play in a half-court setting which caused us to shoot quick 3s, as opposed to transition quick 3s, which is totally different.”When the final whistle blew, the Virginia Tech band serenaded the Orange. The post-game cameras followed the celebrating Hokies as they pushed against one another, many of them smiling. On the other end of the court, SU approached the handshake line in silence.After Syracuse fell to Louisville on Feb. 4, Hillsman challenged his team. Syracuse needed five wins in five games too, in his opinion, comfortably earn an NCAA Tournament berth.It did so and it all led to Greensboro and the second-round matchup against the Hokies, the start of another gauntlet. The Orange was primed to start this one on the right foot, but the fourth quarter took it all away.“We did what we were trained to do as a team: To knock down shots and make open 3s,” Young said. “There’s always a chance when you’re a 3-point shooting team.“… But the style in which we lost, we live or die by, and today we died.” Comments
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DERRY All-Ireland winner and TV pundit Joe Brolly has said he hopes something can be ‘sorted’ after the GAA For All Project came to an end with the loss of four coaching jobs.Brolly was reacting after learning on Donegal Daily that Peace III funding for the programme came to an end on Friday – and no new funding had been found.“We’ll get this sorted one way or another,” said the Dungiven man, who had written just last week on how the project had assisted in coaching young players from special needs schools who had played at half-time in the Ulster semi-final between Donegal and Derry in Cavan last week. The project saw the coaches going into more than 40 schools to coach children in gaelic games. The programme reached out to members of the Protestant and new national communities and to children with special needs.Paddy Mullen, one of those behind the project, didn’t contact Donegal Daily but did post comments on Facebook in which he admitted that Peace III funding had run out last Friday and that no new funding had, as yet, been found.He said that he was “very disappointed” with the story on Donegal Daily on Sunday in relation to the job losses as funding had not been ‘axed’.“The tender, which I assisted in submitting, was for a 12 month project which ended last Friday,” said Mullen. “We are making efforts to try to find corporate sponsors and secure other funding which might allow us to run the project again from September but we cannot express enough our sincere thanks to the Peace III programme for awarding us the contract and allowing us to run such a successful project for the last 12 months.“It is, of course, unfortunate that we cannot afford to continue the employment of the excellent coaches we had recruited for the project, but we do hope that we will be in a position to rehire them again in the months ahead.”Brolly wrote about how the half-time display by teams from the Donegal Dynamos and St Bernadette’s would live long in his memory.“On Wednesday, their last day at school before the summer holidays, all the boys and girls were presented with the photographs of the day,” said Joe.“When the senior game is long forgotten, those extraordinary, joyous half time games will remain vivid in the memory.” FOOTBALL STAR BROLLY HOPES ‘GAA FOR ALL’ PROJECT CAN BE SAVED was last modified: July 1st, 2013 by BrendaShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)