Engstler hit the winning layup at the overtime buzzer on an inbound play with eight-tenths of a second left and Syracuse upset the previously unbeaten Seminoles 90-89. The basket came off a perfect pass from Teisha Hyman, her only assist of the game.
“Teisha threw a really good pass and everybody played their role really well,” Engstler said. “I jumped and I said ‘I hope to God this goes in' and it went in. It was so simple, but it was literally the only play we could have ran to score that basket. So I was like, all right, let’s do it.
“I practice that so much that I should make that every single time I take it. He (Hillsman) chose me because I do it a lot. It was a good choice.” Engstler’s basket answered one by FSU’s Kiah Gillespie that had put the Seminoles up 89-88 with less than a second left, turning and pivoting between two defenders for the score.
Hillsman then drew up a play for Engstler, who had seen limited playing time because she was hit with four fouls. Syracuse guard Kiara Lewis ran toward the backcourt to draw out Engstler’s defender, and Engstler used a screen to cut to the basket and banked in the layup. ESPN made the feat No. 1 on its list of Top 10 plays.
Hillsman said he had drawn up the play on a napkin in a restaurant a few years ago but doubted he’d ever use it in a game. He said the team had never practiced it. “It’s just one of those deals where you have something in your back pocket,” he said. “I drew it up on the fly. Emily got a clean look. That was a really soft pass. She’s a very good, tip-in lob player. I knew she would be the most reliable to go get it, but the pass was unbelievable.”
FSU coach Sue Semrau could only admire the strategy and felt it would serve her team well going forward. “They ran a great play. We were switching everything and had miscommunication,” Semrau said. “Early in the season, that’s a really good thing to have happen so we can grow from that on the road.”
Lewis paced the Orange (7-6, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) with 21 points and Gabrielle Cooper added 14. Engstler and Digna Strautmane each had 12 for the Orange. Gillespie led the Seminoles (13-1, 2-1) with 27 points and Nausia Woolfolk had 19.
Strautmane sent the game to overtime with a 3-pointer with 3 seconds left. Her shot from the top of the key tied it 81-all. The shot was Strautmane’s second 3 in the final minute, after Syracuse had missed 14 straight from long range.
“Emily trusted me and passed me the ball,” Strautmane said. “And we didn’t have time to pass any more so I was like, we have to score.” The Orange, who finished 8 of 33 from beyond the arc, built an 11-point lead early before Florida State rallied late in the second quarter to make it a one-point game.
Hyman’s layup with just over 4 minutes left in the second quarter gave the Orange a 34-23 lead. Nicki Ekhomu then hit a pair of 3-pointers and Gillespie added another off a feed from Ekhomu with 3 seconds left to complete a 14-4 spurt that moved the Seminoles within 38-37 at the break.
BIG PICTURE Florida State: FSU’s 13 consecutive wins to start the season were a program record. The Seminoles hadn't loss a regular-season game since Syracuse beat them, 94-88, on Feb. 28, 2019 in Tallahassee. ... FSU was trying to get off to its first 3-0 start in ACC play since the 2008-09 season, which was its first of two consecutive seasons when it won co-ACC regular season titles.
Syracuse: The win was the Orange's first against a top-10 opponent since an 80-72 victory in 2016 over No. 3 South Carolina in the Elite Eight. ...Florida State was the fourth straight nationally ranked foe for the Orange, who faced six ranked opponents before the turn of the calendar on Jan. 1, a program record. … Lewis entered the career 500-point club and also surpassed the 200-assist mark. ... The Orange are now 2-5 against nationally ranked teams. One of the losses was in overtime to Michigan in early December, and two were by five points or fewer, including 62-58 on Sunday to No. 7 Louisville in their ACC opener.
“We’ve played two No. 1 teams in the country. This wasn’t a shock to us,” Hillsman said. UP NEXT Florida State: The Seminoles turn to in-state play with a visit to Miami on Sunday before hosting Georgia Tech on Jan. 9.
Syracuse: The Orange get another home test on Sunday when Notre Dame comes to the Carrier Dome, then the team heads south for a trip to Miami on Jan. 12.
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