2016 ACC WBB Tournament: Louisville and Syracuse round out semifinal field

Orin Day, Triangle Sports Network
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GREENSBORO, N.C. – Two more of the ACC Tournament’s top seeds earned wins during the second session of quarterfinal play at Greensboro Coliseum on Friday.

No. 2 Louisville and No. 3 Syracuse each advanced to the semifinals following another day of intense competition.

Led by Myisha Hines-Allen, the ACC Player of the Year, the Cardinals topped No. 7 seed Georgia Tech 60-50 while five players scored in double digits to power the Orange past the sixth-seeded N.C. State Wolfpack.

Allen’s 22 points along with Mariya Moore’s 11 were enough to fend off Georgia Tech’s Aaliyah Whiteside (20 points), the league’s scoring leader, and Roddreka Rogers (9 points).

It was a grinding game during which the score was tied on three occasions and the lead changed hands seven times.

With only three 3-pointers scored between the two teams on 24 attempts combined, work in the paint and from the free throw line made the difference as both teams took advantage of a combined 25 turnovers and 32 personal fouls committed throughout.

An exceptional perimeter shooting performance from Syracuse, finishing with a 45-percent conversion rate, made the difference in a physically-contested matchup against the Wolfpack.

Alexis Peterson, Brianna Butler, and Brittney Sykes posted 18, 17, and 15 points respectively while shooting a combined 8-of-17 beyond the arc to lead the Orange.

Miah Spencer’s 22 points along with 14 points from Jennifer Mathurin and 12 from Chelsea Nelson led the Wolfpack offense.

#2 Louisville 60, #7 Georgia Tech 50

Scoring leaders

Louisville: Myisha Hines-Allen 22 pts. (10-20); Mariya Moore 11 pts. (9-9 FT)

Georgia Tech: Aaliyah Whiteside 20 pts. (6-20/7-8 FT); Roddreka Rogers 9 pts. (4-6)

Rebounding leaders: Myisha Hines-Allen (13), Cornee Walton (11)

Turning point

With Georgia Tech leading 16-15 with 7:47 to play in the opening half, Louisville put together a 15-4 run that established a 10-point lead at halftime.

The differential was enough to play, and eventually win with for the Cardinals as both teams played to an even 30-30 second half.

What they said

Louisville head coach Jeff Walz:”We knew it was going to be a battle. They play hard, they play physical, and they’re a very good basketball team. We’d like to congratulate them. It was a battle for sure. There’s no question about it. And we knew it was going to be.

“I was proud of our kids. I thought take away the first five minutes of the game where we just couldn’t figure out who was on our team and who was on theirs because we threw it to the wrong team a few times, about six, actually, in the first five minutes, and then we don’t turn it over but seven times the rest of the game. It’s hard to score when you’re throwing it to the wrong team. When we actually did get shots, we did a pretty good job. You know, so I was really proud of our effort. I thought we rebounded the ball well. I thought we converted our free throws, which you have to do in games like this.”

Louisville’s Myisha Hines-Allen:”We just had to take our time with the ball. They were pressing. They press pretty well, so we just had to take our time, be patient, and run our offenses through.”

Georgia Tech head coach MaChelle Joseph:”I think you saw tonight why Myisha is the ACC Player of the Year. She’s a phenomenal talent. Every big shot, every big play she was a part of. When they needed a score, when we were making runs at them, it seemed like every time we made a run, she came up with a big play. That’s why she’s the ACC Player of the Year.

“But I’m very proud of my team. We battled every game this year in the ACC against some of the top teams in the country, and you know, we were relentless with our effort, and I’m really pleased with the play of our two seniors, our three seniors, and in particular Aaliyah Whiteside and Roddreka Rogers.”

Georgia Tech’s Aaliyah Whiteside (on what Louisville was doing to contain her):” I think I just wasn’t being aggressive and they were trying to take me away, catching the ball, but I think second half I just changed and tried to come out more aggressive for the team.”

Up next:

#2 Louisville vs. #3 Syracuse – 2:30 p.m., Sat.

#6 N.C. State 61, #3 Syracuse 80

Scoring leaders

Syracuse: Alexis Peterson 18 pts. (5-11/3-5 3 pts./5-6 FT); Brianna Butler (5-11/5-10 3 pts.); Britnney Sykes (5-10/5-10 FT)

N.C. State: Miah Spencer 22 pts. (5-10/12-15 FT); Jennifer Mathurin 14 pts. (5-11/2-6 3 pts.); Chelsea Nelson 12 pts. (5-9)

Rebounding leaders: Syracuse – Brianna Day (8); N.C. State – Jennifer Mathurin (7)

Turning point

After N.C. State’s Dominique Wilson’s three tied the game at 35-35 with 8:01 to play in the third quarter, five straight three-pointers from Syracuse’s Peterson and Taylor Ford powered the Orange ahead to carry a 55-45 advantage into the final period.

It was a lead that Syracuse wouldn’t relinquish while outscoring N.C. State 25-16 for the remainder of the game.

What they said:

Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman:”Obviously we’re very pleased with the win, but got to give NC State so much credit. They’re an extremely tough basketball team. We’ve pressured them for 80 minutes now this year, and by far they’ve been the best team that’s handled our pressure this entire season, so we’ve got to give them a lot of credit.

Our kids just grinded it out. We just knew that we had to keep pressure on them no matter what the situation was, we had to continue to keep pressure and to speed the game up. They run such good stuff in the half court, that we wanted the game fast, that we wanted to get up and down, that we wanted to take some of their players out of the game and kind of take their legs so they couldn’t make so many threes, and obviously we made 12, they made four, we won that battle pretty handily, and that says a lot about our team because they’re a great three-point shooting team.”

Syracuse’s Alexis Peterson (on hitting 3’s in the third quarter):”I just felt a big momentum swing. We talked about coming out with effort and energy, and I think when we can hit five threes in one quarter, it just helps our momentum. We start doing the digging more on defense, we start getting involved, getting everyone involved on offense, and I think it just helps. I think we’re all locked in at that point.”

N.C. State head coach Wes Moore:”Just too many turnovers that led to points. I think they scored 29 off of turnovers, and we just didn’t handle it very well. Before when we played them, we had a couple of days to prepare, so today we didn’t have that with the quick turnaround or whatever, we didn’t have quite as much time, and we just didn’t do a good job against the press.

Again, Syracuse did a great job of attacking. They got us in some foul trouble. They were able to get to the rim, and then Butler obviously was very, very good, especially in the first half. I think she was five of six maybe from the three-point line. Again, they did a lot of good things, and tip your hat to them.”

N.C. State’s Miah Spencer (on physicality of Syracuse press):”I felt like they just brought out a different intensity, and like Coach Moore said, we didn’t skip the ball enough. When we did pass half court, they were already matched up basically this game, and when we were at Broughton we were skipping the ball, attacking them, getting behind the zone, getting behind the press and dishing it off, but I just felt like their intensity was higher than it was at Broughton.”

Up next:

#3 Syracuse vs. #2 Louisville – 2:30 p.m., Sat.