Paige Bueckers, No. 1 UConn too much for No. 8 Syracuse
Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Paige Bueckers was the best player on the floor and Syracuse could not make consistently make shots as the top seeded Connecticut Huskies ended the Orange's season 83-44 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. It was the 26th straight win for Connecticut over Syracuse, which advanced to its 27th consecutive Sweet-16. 

Early in the game, things were back and forth. Syracuse was getting great looks but struggled to finish either at the rim or from the outside. UConn's lead was just five after the first quarter. Two minutes into the second, Syracuse cut the lead to two on a pair of Kamilla Cardoso free throws. The Huskies closed the half on a 20-7 run from that point to take control of the game into halftime. 

The third quarter was more of the same as Syracuse struggled to make shots, committed careless turnovers and allowed UConn to go on a 10-2 run to really put the game away. Both runs were sparked by missed open shots by Syracuse and unforced turnovers that lead to easy transition buckets for the Huskies. 

Cardoso scored eight points in the first quarter and 10 in the first 12 minutes of the game, but was not a focal point of the offense the rest of the way. She finished with 12 points along with seven rebounds. In her final game with the Orange, Tiana Mangakahia had seven points and two assists. 

Paige Bueckers was the best player on the court throughout. She was simply electric scoring from all three levels and showing off her tremendous court vision and passing ability. She finished with 20 points, four assists and three steals. UConn shot 56% from the floor to just 27% for Syracuse. The Orange turned it over 18 times. 

Syracuse was without starter Priscilla Williams, who suffered a scary head injury in the ACC Tournament and was unable to go. The Orange was also without four reserves due to a violation of team rules. 

With the loss, Syracuse finishes the season 15-9. 

Syracuse will now have an offseason with a lot of change. Starting point guard Tiana Mangakahia has already made her intentions to turn pro known. Other seniors such as Kiara Lewis, Digna Strautmane and Amaya Finklea-Guity have decisions to make as well. Incoming are five signees, including four ranked in the top 100 and three in the top 51 of the 2021 class. 

There is a quality core there to build around, however. Kamilla Cardoso is still 6-7 and is only scratching the surface of her ability. Emily Engstler will be back next season as one of the veteran leaders. Priscilla Williams will as well with an offseason of development. 

This article first appeared on FanNation All Syracuse and was syndicated with permission.

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