Tiana Mangakahia and Miranda Drummond’s SU careers potentially end with NCAA tournament upset-loss

first_imgIt hasn’t quite settled yet, but Miranda Drummond and Tiana Mangakahia aren’t blind to the reality. The night before Syracuse’s Round of 32 game, Drummond went over to Managkahia’s apartment to watch Miami women’s basketball play.As the same team that solidified Syracuse’s hosting status — the best achievement of Mangakahia’s time as a member of SU, she said — graced the TV in front of them, the pair who’ve so frequently found themselves beneficiaries of each other, looked ahead.It’s been Syracuse’s mantra for the entire tournament, the entire season: “We really need to get this win tomorrow,” they both repeated to each other. That part was blatant to them. But they both wanted to make it to the Final Four. They fantasized about it last season, and this season’s roster appeared to crystalize the possible reality.It happened the same way its happened whenever the Orange had their best performances: Mangakahia would dish the ball to Drummond, Drummond would take the ball in stride and finish. It’s a deadly combination that’s been rarely slowed. An 8-0 run to push the Orange ahead at the start of the fourth quarter showed the partnership at the pinnacle of its performance. A Mangakahia behind-the-back pass found a cutting Drummond. A steal led the break again where Drummond was the first one to jump as Mangakahia tied the game. Those were the plays the two dreamed about and they lived it as a reality.But, instead, Syracuse fell down seven points. Drummond felt something different. Mangakahia grabbed a rebound off the rim, turned and let out a distressed cry to Drummond. She beckoned Drummond up the court. She begged her to do the thing they’ve always done. But when the ball left Drummond’s hands, the play that worked so often, the shot that connected so often, the trajectory of Syracuse’s runs that the play had so often taken, missed.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“It’s a sh*tty feeling,” Mangakahia said. “All of us expected a lot more.”No. 3 Syracuse’s (25-9, 11-5 Atlantic Coast) upset loss in the NCAA tournament Round of 32 spurred the end of the partnership of Tiana Mangakahia and Miranda Drummond. If Mangakahia decides to enter the WNBA draft, Monday’s loss would be the end of the Syracuse careers for both. A group that came in with so much promise looked often to the play of each, who combined for 29 points Monday, and a loss to South Dakota State (28-6, 15-1 Summit) represents a crushing end that many with SU don’t believe either deserves.“We just have that connection,” Drummond said of Mangakahia. “I guess it didn’t work today.”Max Freund | Staff PhotographerMangakahia and Drummond both entered their first year at Syracuse as unknowns. The Orange, in attempting to deal with the loss of program legends then-SU career assist leader Alexis Peterson and dynamic-scorer Brittany Sykes, thrust both into the starting lineup. The results boosted Syracuse and kept it steady. Mangakahia set Syracuse’s single-season assist record and did so while feeding Drummond with dump passes on the perimeter and on cuts to the basket.The two became friends and proven leaders on and off the court. Kadiatou Sissoko, who came to Syracuse this year with little shooting skill, shot with Drummond and Mangakahia after practice almost every day. Mangakahia and Drummond hosted get-togethers where teammates ate dinner and watched movies. For Syracuse football games, Drummond opened her Binghamton home to her teammates.Gabrielle Cooper appreciates the “goofiness” the two bring. Her roommate Drummond is so often a “fun spirit.” When Emily Engstler first attended SU classes over the summer, she was in the same class with Mangakahia. She remembered they couldn’t stop laughing over nothing.  The two became great friends and hung out frequently. They spent nights at Mangakahia’s apartment, walked around campus and laughed some more. Before Engstler had her own car, Drummond used to drive her around SU. Before the season, Syracuse players host a preseason tournament among returners. They asked Engstler to join.Engstler followed with a “roller coaster” season, she said. She used to lean on Drummond and Mangakahia when times were tough. Now, they’re gone.“That’s going to really suck,” Engstler said. “That will suck more than missing them on the basketball court.”Mangakahia’s scared, too. Every player experiences change, Cooper said, but for Mangakahia there’s no choice that she can make to avoid it. Her future is uncertain. Losing and falling short of the goal she and Drummond set, the one they envisioned started Monday doesn’t compare to the abrupt way in which it happened. Now, she’s left with a decision to make — a decision which will leave her with a void either way.More coverage Mental lapses sting Syracuse in season-ending loss to South Dakota StateNo. 3 seed Syracuse falls in historic upset, 74-65, to No. 6 seed South Dakota StateDefensive changes, 3-point shooting, and more fast reactions from Syracuse’s 75-64 loss to South Dakota State Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on March 26, 2019 at 1:25 am Contact Michael: mmcclear@syr.edu | @MikeJMcClearycenter_img She said if she decides it’s best to leave, she would just want to have one last get-together with the team. She’d invite the team over and they’d hang out and play games. She wouldn’t talk about the game, the final foul, the missed shots, her walk off the court, how her Syracuse record-breaking 591st career assist fell in front of the deaf ear of a crowd that was stunned in the home team’s defeat. No, she just wants one more moment with the group. One more goodbye before each of them go their separate ways.Syracuse has experienced change before. Drummond and Mangakahia were the successors of two of the best guards in SU history and came in with little expectation to meet the mark Peterson and Sykes had previously set. But Monday’s loss brings change a little quicker, before it could even settle for Drummond at the end of the game. A final meeting of the team would signify an uncertain future, a future where Syracuse will be without its dynamic duo, and another chance for the team to start anew. Commentslast_img read more