Gabrielle Cooper leads first-half barrage from behind the arc in Syracuse’s 75-63 win over Hartford

first_imgMidway through the second quarter, Gabrielle Cooper lined up her eighth 3-pointer attempt of the first half just to the right of straight-on. The shot was well long, but just far enough. It hit inside the square on the backboard glass and banked into the hoop. Cooper had already made four legitimate 3-pointers in the half but got lucky on that one. It was that kind of day for Cooper.“Coach Q told me in the huddle right before the game, ‘You got to start hitting, you got to make shots,’” Cooper said. “You start hitting shots, of course you just feel good.”Behind Cooper’s five first-half threes, Syracuse (3-0) led by 12 at the half and went on to defeat Hartford (1-3), 75-63 Monday at the Carrier Dome. In the first half, Hartford took 31 shots and SU took 33. Both shot more than half of those attempts from downtown, Hartford going 6-for-17 and Syracuse 7-for-18 from that range. Cooper led the charge.Cooper didn’t waste any time getting her strong first half going. Right off the opening tip-off, won by Syracuse, Cooper ran to the right wing. After a few passes, Digna Strautmane swung the ball to Cooper’s awaiting hands. She didn’t hesitate and swished the game’s opening shot. After a Hartford turnover, Tiana Mangakahia dribbled down the floor and fed it towards Cooper on the right wing, standing in the same spot she had converted from seconds earlier. The passer was different, but the result was the same: swish.“Gabby has to be aggressive for us to win,” Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said. “It’s an encouraging sign to see her come out … She did a really good job coming out right away and making shots.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textCooper went for the heat check a few possessions later, letting fly from at least a few feet beyond the arc. The players on Syracuse’s bench rose, ready to celebrate a hot start. But the shot clanged off the rim.The Orange didn’t have to wait long for another make. The third 3-pointer of the first half for Cooper, early in the second quarter, was a mirror image of the first two. Positioned on the left wing this time, Cooper received another pass from Mangakahia and knocked it down. She was just left of center on her fourth make as well, and by the time she banked in her fifth, Cooper said she knew everything was going right for her.“That was like, ‘wow,’” Cooper said.Cooper was unable to make a 3-pointer in the second half. She missed all five of her attempts, four of which hit the front rim, short of the target. But her right-wing shooting prowess was carried on by Isis Young.Early in the third quarter, Young spotted up on the right wing in the same spot Cooper had been – although at the other end of the floor after halftime. She hadn’t scored yet in the game when she received a pass from Mangakahia and let a high-arcing shot go with a defender right up on her. The ball grazed the rim, but only while falling through the cylinder for a three. The spot stayed warm a few minutes later for Young.After a big first half, Cooper decided to set up Young for another shot. Young, standing in the same place she just hit from on the right wing, caught the ball with a defender closing out. It appeared the shot might get blocked by the leaping Hartford player, Kelly Douglass, but Young was able to get her shot over Douglass’s outstretched right arm. While the ball was on its way to falling through the hoop again, Douglass couldn’t stop her momentum and ran into Young. The ball dropped through, the whistle blew for the foul, and Young turned, wound up and stomped toward center court in celebration. Just a few feet away, Hillsman looked for someone to high five on the bench and threw his right hand at anyone’s who would hit it back.Young eventually missed the free throw after a Hartford timeout, but on School Day in the Carrier Dome, there wasn’t a play on the basketball court that got the children more fired up. The 3-pointer by Young gave the Orange a 15-point lead, and although Hartford stayed in the game and kept the deficit around 10 points for much of the final quarter and a half, Young’s shot was the dagger that SU needed.“You could definitely tell,” Mangakahia said. “It was amazing having them in there, obviously we don’t get that like the guys do, but it’s such a great atmosphere to play.”With under 45 seconds remaining and Syracuse leading by 10 points, Young caught the ball in the right corner and shot. The ball fell through, but Young’s foot had just been on the line, making it a two, just one more shot made from that distance.Although Cooper was unable to cash a 3-pointer after halftime, the damage had been done and Syracuse came away with its third-straight win to start the season. Before its road trip to Washington, D.C. for a tournament later this week, Cooper found her stroke for Syracuse.“I think it’ll really help me going into this road trip,” Cooper said. “Okay, it’s here, I know what I can do, I always knew what I could do but it’s better when you see it again.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 20, 2017 at 2:17 pm Contact Billy: [email protected] | @Wheyen3last_img

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