Oklahoma State and Jaden Hobbs end SU’s season in NCAA Tournament, 84-57

first_img Published on March 17, 2018 at 5:30 pm Contact Andrew: [email protected] | @A_E_Graham STARKVILLE, Miss. — As Jaden Hobbs, an unsuspecting 5-foot-8 redshirt freshman wearing a bulky brace on her left leg, who prior to Saturday averaged four points a game, ran down the court, she looked at the SU bench and smiled.“I kind of wanted to prove myself to everyone watching but to them as well,” Hobbs said of her glance.There was just over a minute left in the third quarter and she had just buried her fourth-straight 3-pointer, this one a 25-foot heat check from the right wing to open up a 25-point lead for Oklahoma State. In two minutes, Hobbs put what was previously a close game out of reach and put a dagger in Syracuse’s season.Hobbs finished 8-of-9 from deep, scoring a career-high 27 — her previous high was 12 — and it was her offensive explosion that led No. 9 Oklahoma State (21-10, 11-7 Big 12) past No. 8 Syracuse (22-9, 10-6 Atlantic Coast), 84-57, in a back-and-forth contest turned blowout at Humphrey Coliseum on Saturday afternoon. The 27-point drubbing in the Round of 64 of the NCAA Tournament was SU’s worst loss of the season.“They put the ball inside and collapsed us and put the ball outside and shot 3s,” SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBoth teams came to Starkville after late-season disappointment. OSU dropped three-straight late in the season, then was ousted in its first game of the Big 12 tournament. Syracuse fell to Virginia Tech in the Orange’s conference tournament opener, failing to make a shot in the fourth quarter.Saturday was a chance to get on track, to start a run. To exorcise any postseason demons that lay within. But if anything, SU’s demons manifested further.“It’s not a good feeling,” Tiana Mangakahia said. “Knowing they’re on a roll and you’re on the back foot. It’s hard to get back into that, it’s hard to get out of that mental low.”The Cowgirls burned SU early on when starting center Amaya Finklea-Guity appeared to bang knees with Kaylee Jensen and had to take a seat. The Cowgirls drove to the basket relentlessly to little resistance and after Loryn Goodwin hit an easy transition layup capping a 9-2 OSU run, Hillsman took a timeout.But then SU started running. OSU missed, SU sprinted down the court. OSU made a shot, SU inbounded and sprinted down the court. The pace started to wear on the Cowgirls and the Orange clawed back, eventually tying the game and briefly taking a lead.And that’s how it went. Every mini Syracuse run was followed by Oklahoma State re-establishing control and building a small lead. Then SU punched back, and so on.Sometimes it was minutes before a team took back momentum, sometimes it was seconds. With 4:30 left in the second quarter, Goodwin sprinted to jump a passing lane and trucked Mangakahia, laying the Australian out. Mangakahia picked up the foul, but 26 seconds later, she planted herself and took a charge as SU’s bench exploded.Courtesy of Devin Lawrence Wilber | The O’CollyIn the second half, Oklahoma State took a seemingly vulnerable eight-point lead and ballooned it to as much as 30. The Cowgirls had finally put a stranglehold on the game.“Obviously not very happy with the game,” Hillsman said. “Obviously at the end of the day, ultimately as a coach I’ve got to get us into a better position to win these games.”“That’s a tough swing,” he later said of the third quarter.Goodwin and Jensen did their parts as expected — the two combined for 38 points — by doing what they always do. Jensen played bully-ball down low, establishing position under the basket to get countless second- and third-shot opportunities.Postgame, Hillsman said that he knew Finklea-Guity would be overmatched and SU, in general, didn’t have the personnel to match Jensen’s physicality. OSU, he said, also ran plays to move the weakside help away from the post and free up Jensen for easy backdowns and putbacks.“It might come as a benefit to us to just stick to our rebounding and what we know best,” Jensen said at Friday’s press conference.Goodwin scored 19 without ever seeming to shoot the ball. She mostly took driving opportunities when they easily presented themselves or teammates were too closely guarded. But ultimately, it was Hobbs that singlehandedly provided the near-perfect 3-point onslaught that was too much for Syracuse, or probably any team, to overcome.“It’s frustrating when it comes from one player on the team,” Drummond said. “Number 23, 8-for-9. We just didn’t adjust against her.”Hobbs started her scoring early, hitting a 3 to make it 9-5 in the first quarter, coming within one point of her season average. Then she went quiet, scoring four points between her first make and the start of her barrage.It was a barrage hauntingly familiar to the drought Syracuse went on in the ACC Tournament, when an upstart Virginia Tech team poured in 29 points while SU’s offense fell silent for an entire quarter.While Hobbs hit shot after shot after shot, the basket froze over for SU. For every Hobbs make, there was an SU miss. Long or short, left or right. It didn’t matter. All that did was in a span of 2:02, OSU’s lead exploded from 13 to 25. “She did a very good job of hunting her shot and knocking them down,” Hillsman said.Coming out of halftime, it seemed SU could erase the Cowgirls’ eight-point lead and get back in the game — the Orange had done it already — but Goodwin and Jensen, and Hobbs, kept SU at arm’s length out of the break. Then Hobbs hit a catch-and-shoot 3 from the right side. Then she came off a middle screen and buried it. Then another the same way. She was able to hit the same look twice because Syracuse was flat switching, rather than hedging, Hillsman said.Finally, Goodwin found Hobbs on the right side and with a three that caught nothing but net and a grin from Hobbs, Syracuse’s season was wrapped up before the third quarter ended. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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