No. 27 Syracuse upset by No. 35 Wichita State, 4-1, in first round of NCAA tournament

first_imgUPDATED: May 11, 2018 at 9:48 p.m.On Tuesday, Gabriela Knutson said a first-round loss to No. 35 Wichita State would be “embarrassing.” Three days later, the Shockers upset No. 27 Syracuse (17-8, 8-6 Atlantic Coast) in dominating fashion, 4-1, at Palmer/Salloum Tennis Center in Oxford, Mississippi.After dropping the first point of the match, SU could not recover in singles. Knutson and Miranda Ramirez’s hopes of facing No. 6 Ole Miss in the second round of NCAA tournament never came to fruition even though SU was a favorite to win its first-round matchup. The Orange’s problems started with an early deficit. No. 8 Knutson and Ramirez opened their doubles match against WSU’s No. 72 Fatima Bizhukova and Marta Bellucco up 4-2. On the other side of the courts, SU was down in second and third doubles. With two victories needed to take the first point of the match, the Orange could not even muster one. After Masha Tritou and Dina Hegab dropped their third doubles match, 1-6, Knutson and Ramirez lost four straight games to clinch the doubles point for the Shockers. Down a point, SU needed to win four of its six singles matches to beat WSU. AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEarly on, SU’s best three players were overmatched by WSU’s top half of the lineup. Sofya Golubovskaya was blindsided by the play of No. 124 Sandra Honigova from the start. The SU freshman only won two of 14 games, and her loss gave the Shockers a two-point lead. Next to Golubovskaya, Ramirez struggled in second singles. Ramirez took the first game of the match after a pair of forehand winners, but her early lead erased quickly. Down 1-4, the sophomore started to get frustrated after floating a couple of shots past the endline. After a 2-6 first set defeat, Ramirez dealt with identical problems and dropped her second set in similar fashion. The 2-6, 2-6 loss meant the Orange’s chances of a victory were becoming bleak. The attention turned to No. 5 Knutson. SU’s first singles player, who hadn’t dropped a match to a player currently ranked outside of the top 10 all season, was overmatched from the start. Knutson’s opponent, WSU’s No. 72 Fatima Bizhukova, dominated with her serve early. By countering Knutson’s first serve, Bizhukova started to take early points and took a 4-0 lead. As Knutson fought back, she started to overhit her targets and couldn’t hold on in rallies resulting in a 2-6 first set loss. Knutson opened the second set with her forehand to put herself up early. As the score leveled at 2-2, Knutson started to slow down as Bizhukova began to exploit the middle of the court. As the end of the match neared, Knutson threw her hands up in the air and hit her racket to the ground as she missed an easy forehand winner that floated out of bounds at 3-5. In a day filled with missed opportunities from Syracuse, Knutson summed up the match with that one reaction: utter frustration. Knutson’s 2-6, 3-6 loss clinched the match for the Shockers and ended SU’s season.In a year where Syracuse more than doubled its win total, knocked off then-No. 3 Georgia Tech and boasted a winning conference record for the first time in five years, the Orange’s season ended to a team that didn’t have a top-35 win on the season, until Friday.CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article, Marta Bellucco was misnamed. The Daily Orange regrets this error.  Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on May 11, 2018 at 3:35 pm Contact KJ: kjedelma@syr.edu | @KJEdelmanlast_img

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