GREENSBORO, N.C. – No. 15 seed Virginia Tech and No. 13 seed Wake Forest continued their way into the quarterfinals with wins over No. 7 Pittsburgh and No. 5 Syracuse respectively in second-round play at the 2015 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Women’s Basketball Tournament played at Greensboro Coliseum on Thursday.
In the first game of a full day of second-round action, freshman guard Amber Campbell led the Demon Deacons in their 85-79 upset over the Orange.
The Hokies kept the tournament’s fireworks going in the third game of the day as Vanessa Panousis’ game-high 20 points and a perfect 6-for-6 performance from the line was the deciding factor in denying the Panthers the opportunity to move on, falling 51-45 to the tournament’s bottom seed.
No. 8 Miami used a productive perimeter game to top No. 9 Virginia, 62-52, in the second matchup of the day, while No. 6 North Carolina made easy work of eliminating No. 11 Georgia Tech with an 84-64 finish to end the day.
Game 1: Wake Forest 85, Syracuse 79
Campbell scored a career-high 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting and paced the Demon Deacons throughout the game.
Dearica Hamby was held in check for the first half, scoring just seven points for Wake Forest, but kicked it into gear during the final 20 minutes as she finished with a total of 23 points and corralled 10 rebounds to register her 43rd double-double of her career.
Syracuse was led by guard Alexis Peterson who posted a season-high 34 points, while Cornelia Fondren and Brianna Butler added double-digit finishes, scoring 16 and 10 respectively.
At the half:
Despite the Orange defense causing 16 first half turnovers, Syracuse led 36-33 at the half.
What they said:
I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” Wake Forest head coach Jen Hoover said.
“We came into the tournament with a determination about ourselves. Even the last two weeks of the season, I would say, that there was definitely a sense of urgency, and when you have all of our young ladies playing and doing what they do best, we’re a very dangerous basketball team. Today I thought we were just relentless in all aspects of the game. A little too relentless to turn the ball over at first, but I thought after we kind of withstood all of the chaos that was creating, we settled in in the second half and just took care of the basketball.”
“Well, we wasn’t scoring,” Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman said.
“That was the biggest thing. We just didn’t score the basketball for a large chunk of the game, and when we get into those droughts where we don’t score, that means we can’t press. That’s our game is making the game fast, getting the game up tempo. We want to play in the 80s, and they played in the 80s, we played in the 70s, and that’s not our game, so we’ve got to get the game sped up. I think we did that in the first half. Second half we didn’t do that.”
Wake Forest (13-19) moves on to face fourth-seeded Duke (20-9) in Friday’s first quarterfinal game of the day.
Syracuse sits at 21-9 overall and will await its NCAA Tournament fate come Selection Sunday.
Game 2: Miami 62, Virginia 53
All-ACC sophomore Adrienne Motley led the Hurricanes with 15 points for her 27th time scoring in double figures in 30 games this season.
Necole Sterling added 13, including a 3-pointer from the left corner with 13:08 remaining that put Miami in front for good at 42-40.
Breyana Mason’s 13 points led Virginia’s offense, while Lauren Moses posted 11 points and eight rebounds along with Mikayla Venson who added 11 points to the Cavaliers’ total.
At the half:
Miami was up 34-30 at the break, the largest lead by either team in a first half that featured six ties and 11 lead changes.
What they said:
“I’ll tell you what, that whole game I thought was going to be a grind,” Miami head coach Katie Meier said.
“It was the last time we played them. We talked about there’s a difference between confidence and faith, and confidence just has the patience to it, and that’s what I was at the beginning of the game, we were confident but we didn’t have faith. We were in a hurry, we were fumbling balls, we were trying to win the game in the first four minutes. And then I think we found our patience and executed our sets and simplified the game plan and gave the guards a little bit more power to make the calls that they believed in, that they had faith in.”
“This last month we’ve really had a flow to us and that’s what we talked about,” Virginia head coach Joanne Boyle said.
“We just were so disjointed, and we didn’t just have a flow offensively, and where we’ve been really good is if we get stops, we get into a little bit of transition and we can kind of go back and forth between running and pushing the ball in transition, calling a couple quick hitters, running a couple sets, and I just felt like we got back to where we were a month ago, it was just like walk the ball down the floor, miss a shot, just one pass, just a brokenness to us on the offensive end of the floor, and we weren’t scoring, and then we spent the whole night in transition defense against a really, really athletic team.”
The Hurricanes head into Friday’s quarterfinal matchup with top-seeded Notre Dame with the distinction of being the only ACC team to defeat the Fighting Irish since they joined the conference prior to last season.
Miami posted a 78-63 win over Notre Dame in Coral Gables earlier in the season.
Game 3: Virginia Tech 51, Pittsburgh 45
During the second half, Panousis connected on her 72nd three-pointer of the season, setting a new school record, while finishing 4-of-11 beyond the arc.
Pitt was paced by freshman Stasha Carey, who recorded her sixth career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
At the half:
After Pitt tied the game on a Cora McManus jumper with 23 seconds on the clock, Virginia Tech’s Taijah Campbell cleaned up a missed lay-in at the buzzer and sent the Hokies to the locker room with a 19-17 lead.
What they said:
“Well, I’m going to kind of repeat everything that I said last night; that for us to have to come back on a day’s rest against a good team, really, really proud of the way the ladies played,” Virginia Tech head coach Dennis Wolff said.
“I think that we were smart against a good defensive team. We changed defenses at the end to try to limit Kiesel’s touches, and I thought Kelsey Conyers did a real good job when that happened. Vanessa and Sidney both made big plays, so it’s a real, real big win for our program.”
“Virginia Tech made timely plays,” Pitt head coach Suzie McConnell-Serio said.
“They hit timely shots. They made their free throws. They made plays. Disappointing loss across the board for us. When we struggle it’s no secret that we go as Brianna Kiesel goes, and today was a struggle. They did a great job of defending her and disrupting. Our concern when she does struggle is who’s going to step up and make plays and score the basketball. I thought Stacia did a great job in so many ways. She’s our best post player who can hedge on ball screens. She was a presence inside when they went box and one. We used Bri as a screener to get her lay ups, rebounding the basketball, a double-double first postseason as a freshman, I thought she did a lot of good things, but just wasn’t enough as a team.”
Virginia Tech (12-19) moves on to face second-seeded Florida State (27-3) in Friday’s 6 p.m. quarterfinal game.
The Hokies have now won two-straight contests after losing nine in a row.
With the loss, Pitt falls to 19-11 overall on the season.
Game 4: North Carolina 84, Georgia Tech 64
Led by 23 points and 16 rebounds from All-ACC forward Stephanie Mavunga, the Tar Heels rolled through its second-round win.
Allisha Gray, who was injured early in the second half returned to score all of her 14 points in the game’s final 13 minutes of play, while teammate Latifah Coleman also added 10 points for the Tar Heels.
Kaela Davis and Zaire O’Neal led Georgia Tech’s offense with 14 points apiece to go along with Aaliyah Whiteside’s 13.
At the half:
Mavunga’s 14 points and seven rebounds in the first 20 minutes led UNC to a 37-27 halftime lead.
What they said:
“First of all, it was great to be back here with all you guys,” North Carolina head coach Sylvia Hatchell said.
“Appreciate y’all staying up late tonight. It’s been a long day. These last day games or games at the end of the day, they’re usually pretty tough. But I thought we came out of the gate pretty good, played well. Georgia Tech is a great team. They’re so physical. They’ve got so many weapons. I mean, gosh, Whiteside and Davis, they just on and on. They just bang and battle so hard in there, so we knew it was going to be a tough game and very physical. But I thought we came out and played well.”
“Obviously we’re disappointed in the final score of the game, but like I’ve told this team all year long, the scoreboard doesn’t make you a winner or loser, it’s how you play the game,” Georgia Tech head coach MaChelle Joseph said.
“I really felt like we played hard for 40 minutes. Obviously we had challenges inside with Mavunga. She had her way with us with our undersized posts. It’s just one of those things where we know what we have to do moving forward to compete at the highest level in the ACC and with somebody like Mavunga, we’ve got to have bodies that can challenge her on the inside. I thought struggled to score with their size and their physicality. I thought it was probably the most physical game we’ve been in all year, and I thought that bothered our shooters a little bit, and we just weren’t able to connect on shots that we normally hit.”
The ACC Tournament game was the first in nearly two years for UNC coach Sylvia Hatchell, who missed all of last season while undergoing treatment for leukemia.
Hatchell, whose illness is now in full remission, was honored in a pregame ceremony as the recipient of the ACC’s Bob Bradley Spirit and Courage Award, which is presented annually to an ACC student-athlete, coach or administrator in men’s or women’s basketball who has overcome significant hardship to contribute to his or her team.
Led by Hatchell, the Tar Heels (24-7) will enter Friday night’s 8 p.m. quarterfinal game against third-seeded Louisville (24-5).
Friday night’s matchup against North Carolina will be the Cardinals’ first-ever ACC Tournament game and a rematch of the Feb. 15 regular-season contest in which Louisville claimed a 75-66 home-court win.
With the loss, the Yellow Jackets slipped to 18-14 overall.