Emily Engstler hit a season high of 21 points in Syracuse’s 72:59 loss to Florida State in the ACC semifinals.
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GREENSBORO, NC – With Syracuse 54:43 behind, just under two minutes in the third quarter, Syracuse guard Kiara Lewis drove off the top of the key into the paint. When Lewis dribbled, Louisville’s defense collapsed and the Redshirt senior walked over to her right to a wide-open Emily Engstler.
After Engstler caught the pass, he paused and pretended. The unnecessary forgery gave Louisville’s Norika Konno time to recover in defense. After the pump was faked, Engstler stepped back to reset and dribbled between her legs before taking a drop towards the basket. With Konno’s hand on his face, Engstler pulled up and let the controversial triple off one foot behind the arch.
In the fourth quarter, Lewis crashed in court in transition with Digna Strautmane on her right and Engstler on her left. With defenders focused on Lewis, she tossed Engstler to the left, who paused, looked at the basket, and fired. Engstler’s shot hit only net at 7:09 in the fourth quarter. After Louisville head coach Jeff Walz had reduced Louisville’s lead to 61-53, he called for a time-out.
Despite Engstler’s season high of 21 points, Syracuse (14-8, 10-8 Atlantic Coast) fell in the semifinals of the ACC tournament on the best-filled Cardinals (24-2, 15-2) 72-59. While Engstler was named C0 sixth player of the year in the regular season, she started all three games of the ACC tournament and only completed a total of two minutes. Against Louisville, Engstler led all scorers and got 10 rebounds – synonymous for most in the game. Throughout the conference tournament, a understaffed Syracuse team put the versatile junior on the pitch.
« We needed her to play many roles for us, » said head coach Quentin Hillsman of Engstler. “We needed her to hit the basketball. We needed her to deal with the ball and she did all of these things for us. “
With SU 48-41 down in the third quarter, Engstler settled in a low position on the right block. With a defender from Louisville on his back, Engstler raised his hand and demanded the ball from striker Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi. The Redshirt Junior was immediately committed. As soon as Engstler took hold of the pass, she turned while keeping her left foot planted and facing her defender.
Engstler looked directly at the basket, rose, and hit the embattled midfielder, reducing Louisville’s lead to five . In defense, the midrange of cardinal striker Elizabeth Dixon rattled from the side of the rim.
Engstler, positioned under the basket, jumped backwards towards Konno. After Engstler had successfully blocked Konno, he grabbed the defensive rebound and started a quick break in the SU. A few possessions later, Engstler started another when Cardoso went over to her after a defensive ricochet. The striker trickled gently into the forecourt, sensing SU’s offensive and de facto acting as point guard.
« Every time you have a player who can now play as good as five positions for you on the ground , you have a special player, « said Hillsman of Engstler. « She was great during that tournament and I thought she was promoted and gave us the chance to win every game. »
Engstler hit all but one of Syracuse’s 3 points on Saturday when the team came together shot only 3:17 behind the bow. The striker shot more shots from the free-throw line than any other SU player and finished the charity streak 5-6. No matter who Louisville Engstler was defending with, the versatile striker found various ways to attack the Cardinals.
With only six available players against Louisville, the pressure on the junior was increased. While Cardoso, Lewis and Strautmane spent time on the bench due to bad problems, Engstler played the entire game.
While the Cardinals led the ACC in the standings, averaging almost 80 points per game due to their fast pace, Hillsman said, that the Engstler style benefited.
The versatile Engstler can depress the immune system during quick breaks, cut to the edge or run out to the edge. In slower offensive sets at half place – which Syracuse played mostly on Saturday – Engstler set up defenders, stepped outside from the depths or crashed into the glass to get offensive rebounds. Engstler finished the game with three offensive boards, which were tied for most players on both teams.
At 5:30 in the fourth quarter, Strautmane kicked behind the arch for a 3 after Cardoso knocked off an offensive rebound. As soon as Syracuse crossed over to Strautmane on the left wing, the striker rose for a triple. Her shot ricocheted off the front iron, but Engstler was under the basket, securing a ricochet over two Louisville defenders.
The junior immediately jumped for a shot and was fouled, where she made one of two free throws .
« Emily has always been a great player, » said center Amaya Finklea-Guity. « She played great the whole tournament. »
RT @AnthonyDabbundo: Virginia beats Louisville to take # 1 in the ACC tournament.
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