AUSTIN, Texas — Emily Engstler scored 18 points and made three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and No. 8 Syracuse pulled away from No. 9 South Dakota State for a 72-55 first-round win in the women’s NCAA Tournament on Sunday.
Syracuse led 50-48 to open the fourth quarter before Englstler struck from long range on consecutive baskets for the Orange and Syracuse slowly pulled away from there. Her third from long range took two bounces on the rim before falling in to put Syracuse ahead 66-52 with 3:19 to play.
Syracuse (15-8) got even for a second-round loss to the Jackrabbits in 2019. That loss came on the Orange’s homecourt and the payback came at the Frank Erwin Center at the University of Texas campus.
Engstler made four of Syracuse’s 12 3-pointers. The Orange had five players score in double figures in a methodical offense that produced points from everywhere. Senior guard Tania Mangakahia scored 11 to go with seven assists.
Paiton Burckhard scored 17 for South Dakota State (21-4).
Syracuse started quickly behind Mangakahia and freshman center Kamilla Cardoso only to see the Jackrabbits mount a steady comeback and take a 28-25 lead early in the second quarter.
The Orange closed the period with a 10-3 run that included 3-pointers from Digna Strautmane and Engstler for a 37-31 lead at halftime.
Syracuse stretched the lead to nine when Mangakahia made a 3-pointer from the right wing. The Jackrabbits immediately responded behind Burckhard, who scored 11 points in the quarter and cut it to 43-42 with a short jumper.
Defensive pressure by the Orange unsettled the Jackrabbits in the backcourt in the fourth. A floater by Mangakahia off a steal pushed the Syracuse lead to 61-52 with 5:46 to play and the Orange were in control.
COMEBACK FROM CANCER
Mangakahia sat out last season after being diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer which lead to chemotherapy and a double mastectomy to remove fast-growing tumors. The Australian returned to lead the NCAA with 7.5 assists per game coming into the tournament.
South Dakota was missing the star of its 2019 upset. Myah Selland, the Summit League player of the year, has been out since a Feb. 19 injury.
Syracuse advances to the second round to play the winner of No. 1 seed UConn and No. 16 High Point in San Antonio.