2014 ACC WBB Tournament: No. 5 Syracuse eliminates No. 13 Clemson

Orin Day - TSN via ACCWBBDigest.com

Orin Day – TSN via ACCWBBDigest.com

GREENSBORO, N.C. – The fifth-seeded Syracuse Orange claimed their  first-ever Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Women’s Basketball Tournament victory, beating the 13th-seeded Clemson Tigers 63-53 at Greensboro Coliseum on Thursday.

The Orange (22-8, 10-6) got scoring contributions from 10 different players, led by a team-high 10 points from guard Brittney Sykes.

“I thought going into this game, we thought about balance,” Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said.

“I thought we had a ton of balance. When you look down our stat lines, everyone played and everyone contributed to this win. So I’m very happy about the win. I thought that late second half we just got isolated and got some good looks at the basket. Everybody helped us win the basket game.”

The first half opened with both teams trading baskets and the lead on 10 different occasions while getting to level terms three times.

In total, the Orange’s bench produced 18 first-half points, led by nine points from La’Shay Taft, leading 30-27 by halftime, and continuing to rely on its depth of scoring for the rest of the game.

During the final 20 minutes Syracuse continued its strong play and held the Tigers (13-19, 4-12) to 26 points on 10-of-26 shooting (.385 percent) from the field and just 1-of-8 (.125 percent) from behind the arc.

The Orange’s lead grew to as many 13 points with 2:10 remaining in the game.

“In the first half, me and Brianna were 0 for 6, but for me, it was just a matter of just staying

confident and knowing that the shots that I usually make were rimming out,” Sykes said.

“I know I could make those shots. It was keeping confidence and staying out of my own head.”

Guard Nikki Dixon and forward Nyilah Jamison-Myers scored game-highs with 15 apiece for the Tigers in the losing effort that ended their season.

“I was proud of the way our players played, the way they fought, especially the majority of the kids

having to play a ton of minutes last night,” Clemson coach Audra Smith said.

“That was a very emotional and physically exhausting game for them. But I’m really proud of the way they fought. I really felt like Syracuse had to battle to win this game. And they turned it on late in the second half and went on a run and we couldn’t recover from that run.”

With the victory, Syracuse moved on to the quarterfinals on Friday to face the fourth seeded N.C. State Wolfpack at Noon.