GREENSBORO, N.C. — There was no shortage of drama to end the quarterfinal round of play at the 2015 ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament at Greensboro Coliseum on Friday.
A missed shot by North Carolina freshman guard Jamie Cherry and Sara Hammond’s 20 points led No. 4 seed Louisville past No. 6 seed North Carolina, 77-75, in overtime.
In the evening session’s earlier game, No. 2 seed Florida State made easy work of No. 15 seed Virginia Tech, beating the gutsy squad 82-43 as it played its third game in as many days.
Quarterfinal 3: Florida State 82, Virginia Tech 43
Shakayla Thomas, the ACC’s Sixth Player of the Year, scored 17 points, while Maegan Conwright and Leticia Romero added 11 apiece for the Seminoles.
Florida State never trailed, shot 58 percent throughout, and built up a double-figure lead before the Hokies dropped their first field goal.
It was an inevitable outcome for a physically overmatched Hokies squad that could only muster a 28-percent shooting output while committing 17 turnovers.
Vanessa Panousis’ nine points led Virginia Tech which tried to win its third game in three nights.
At the half:
Trailing 39-12 with 2:31 to play, the Hokies scored five points to finish the opening half.
However, it barely scratched the surface as the Seminoles held a dominating 41-17 lead at the intermission break.
What they said:
“I’ll tell you, our defense was really tough tonight,” Florida State and ACC Coach of the Year Sue Semrau said.
“They communicated. They knew what was coming. We’ve defended all kinds of sets all year, and really, it took being very locked in. Virginia Tech, I think, does a tremendous job of running their stuff, and they don’t usually turn the ball over, and so to force 17 turnovers was really big for us.”
“You know, I just told the ladies in the locker room, they gave all of us and everybody that follows our program a week to remember,” Virginia Tech coach Dennis Wolff said.
“I don’t think anybody thought we would be sitting here on Friday night. We knew going in it was going to be a challenge. I felt all along that Florida State is a Final Four type team. They’re tremendously well coached, they have depth. So even if we hadn’t played two days prior, it would have been a tough task for us. So they did a good job of taking away what we were trying to do, and we had a hard time guarding them. Our hats off to them. In regard to my team, I’m really happy to be their coach, and they gave us a great week.”
Florida State will play the 10th-ranked Cardinals on Saturday, reaching the ACC semifinals for only the fourth time in program history, a position which it has failed to advance from, finishing 0-3 in previous appearances.
Beating the Hokies, the Seminoles won their opening-round game for the third consecutive year, but have never won more than one game in ACC Tournament play after that. Virginia Tech’s season finished its season at 12-20 overall.
Quarterfinal 4: Louisville 77, North Carolina 75
Hammond matched her season high while Myisha Hines-Allen had 17 points to help the Cardinals advance.
Jessica Washington scored 16 points and hit three 3-pointers for the Tar Heels while Stephanie Mavunga added 12 points and 16 rebounds.
N’Dea Bryant’s 13 points along with Brittany Rountree’s 11 helped to put the Tar Heels up 73-72 with 47.3 seconds left.
Shawnta Dyer (9 points, 5 rebounds) put the Cardinals ahead just eight seconds later.
Cherry (9 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) sent the game into overtime with a 40-foot high-arching jumper that dropped at the buzzer.
She got the inbounds pass, dribbled the ball up court and put up the miraculous three-point attempt a couple of steps past the midcourt stripe.
Everyone in the building watched and cheered in amazement as it cleanly dropped and swished through the basket to force the extra period.
Hines-Allen hit a free throw with 4.8 seconds left in overtime to eventually set up a similar situation as Louisville led by two points.
As quickly as Cherry and the Tar Heels experienced the exhilaration of making a tying basket, it was eventually followed by the agony of missing one as they watched her last shot miss as the final horn sounded.
At the half:
It was a close game throughout, including during the opening 20 minutes as the lead changed 10 times and was tied on four different occasions.
Louisville held on to a 31-30 margin at the break.
What they said:
“Just a very intense basketball game, no question about it,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said.
“I think everybody saw how physical of a game it was. You know, Carolina is a great basketball team, very well coached. Those kids were going to continue to fight, also. Unbelievable shot Cherry makes there at the end of regulation to send it to overtime, but got to give credit to our kids for stepping up and knocking down free throws there. Hammond had some big ones at crunch time for us. We’re just very fortunate to have the opportunity to continue on. Want to wish Carolina the best of luck in the NCAA Tournament because they’re a handful. They’re very, very, very talented.”
“We missed a lot of shots around the basket,” North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell said.
“Really disappointed we didn’t get to the foul line in overtime, but I thought we fought hard and missed a lot of shots around the basket, but I’m extremely proud of these three young ladies. Brittany did a great job on Moore. Last time we played them she got I think 28 and she got seven today. But I thought we had the shots to win. It was a hard fought game.”
Friday night’s game was the 16th in the 38-year history of the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament that went to overtime.
In making its ACC Tournament debut, Louisville moved on to play No. 7 Florida State on Saturday in the Tournament’s second semifinal game.
The Cardinals appeared in their third different conference tournament in the past three seasons (BIG EAST, American, ACC).
North Carolina, 24-8 overall, awaits an at-large berth into the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday.