Day Three Summary of the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament
GREENSBORO, N.C. – In an exciting day that featured four quarterfinal games in the ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament, the contests varied from blowout victories to down-to-the-wire thrillers.
Florida State and Louisville, two of the ACC’s three ranked teams, swept Wake Forest and Syracuse in the first two games. NC State and Duke had their hands full in the later session, though, which almost got the best of the Wolfpack – and ended the Blue Devils’ ACC Tournament title chances.
No. 4 Florida State vs. No. 13 Wake Forest
The Demon Deacons shocked the ACC in first two rounds of the tournament but couldn’t win their third in a row, falling 76-47 to the Seminoles.
Florida State got off to a hot start, leading 42-25 at the break behind eight three point makes on ten attempts. Though they finished 10-17 from behind the arc, their first half start was enough to keep their distance from Wake Forest.
“They came out red hot,” Wake Forest head coach Jen Hoover said. “They took advantage of our turnovers.”
The Seminoles did exactly that, forcing nine turnovers in the first half, with six coming in the first quarter. Wake Forest finished with 14 turnovers, which led to 18 points for Florida State.
Despite another impressive performance in the tournament for Wake Forest’s Ivana Raca, who led the Demon Deacons with 18 points, it was not enough to stop the Seminoles. Wake shot 35 percent but Florida State couldn’t miss, making 52 percent of their attempts (31-60 FG).
Four players scored in double figures for the fourth seeded Seminoles, led by Kourtney Weber with 15 points. She also recorded four assists and zero turnovers, which she said she was most proud of.
“I wanted to go out there and do whatever my team needed me to do,” Weber said. “Today was more scoring and driving and tomorrow could be rebounding. I want to go out and play comfortable and not force anything.”
While the Seminoles advance to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament, the Demon Deacons are holding out hope for a bid to the WNIT.
“We do feel like we’ve done enough in this conference to make this run late,” Hoover said.
“Hopefully, it will be enough to give us a shot because we would like a chance to win a championship and it would be a big, big thing for this program.”
No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 8 Syracuse
The top-seeded Cardinals got off to a hot start in the second quarterfinal game, led by Dana Evans’ 23 points.
Evans made six of her ten three-point attempts, while the team hit on 12 of their 23 shots from behind the arc.
“We dictated a lot of what we wanted them to do,” Louisville head coach Jeff Walz said. “Instead of just reacting to what they were doing, I thought defensively we were there on the catch. … we had to do a good job of keeping them off the glass and we did a great job of that today.”
The Cardinals outrebounded the Orange 53-31, with ten of the boards coming from Jazmine Jones.
“He [Walz] has been challenging me these last couple games getting to the glass and get rebounds,” Louisville guard Jazmine Jones said. “We really committed to boxing out this game and rebounding and that's what I think was a big part of this game for us.”
The Cardinals, who lead the league in points scored and points allowed, held a 34-13 lead over Syracuse at halftime.
The Orange shot 27 percent against the Cardinals, a bit of a difference from the 35 percent that Syracuse shot against Louisville in their first two meetings. Their biggest drought was in the second quarter as they made just one of 14 field goals.
Kiara Lewis led ‘Cuse with 18 points, the only Orange player in double figures, on six of 21 shooting.
The Cardinals will return to Greensboro Coliseum on Saturday to face No. 4 Florida State in the first semifinal at noon.
No. 2 NC State vs. No. 7 Georgia Tech
The Wolfpack responded to the Yellow Jackets’ strong start and never trailed after the second quarter, winning 57-48 in the third game on Friday.
Georgia Tech led 16-7 after the first period due to hitting six of their 13 shots, all while holding NC State to 3-16 shooting.
State flipped the script in the second quarter, making 43 percent of their shots and allowing Tech to make just two field goals.
“What we walked about as a team was ‘we’re better than what we’re playing right now,” Wolfpack guard Aislinn Konig said postgame. “We need to be patient. Shots aren’t falling but we need to do those little things, play defense, keep the ball and rebound.”
The Wolfpack went on a 15-2 run over the last eight and a half minutes of the second period, sending the game into halftime tied at 23.
They never trailed again.
Despite a jump shot from Tech’s Francesca Pan tying the game at 42 with 5:49 to play, the State defense was too much to handle for the Jackets, who turned the ball over 14 times. The Wolfpack, on the other hand, finished with 14 assists and 12 turnovers, a stat that pleased head coach Wes Moore.
“I was proud that we had more assists to turnovers,” NC State head coach Wes Moore said.
“Normally, they win the turnover battle. Today, we did a pretty good job of handling that.”
Pan, who scored 30 points in the Jackets’ 65-61 win over NC State on February 16, was held to 15 points on 6-15 shooting.
“As a team, we tried to focus more on her,” Konig said after dropping 16 points. “She has huge potential to go off and be a player for that team. … We were trying to force other people to get shots and help off the players we thought we had a better chance of guarding.
According to ESPN Bracketologist Charlie Creme, as of 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Georgia Tech is the last team in the NCAA Tournament bracket, though their loss might drop them out of the field.
However, during the fourth quarter of the Jackets-Wolfpack game, Creme tweeted that if Tech could not hold on, they would fall out of the field.
Similar to Wake Forest holding out hope for a WNIT bid, the Yellow Jackets will cross their fingers for an NCAA Tournament appearance.
For the Wolfpack, they will play in the second semifinal in the ACC Tournament at 2 p.m. on Saturday in front of a favorable red and white crowd.
No. 3 Duke vs. No. 6 Boston College
In a back and forth quarterfinal matchup, Boston College outlasted the Blue Devils, upsetting Duke 84-77 in Friday’s final game in Greensboro.
“Coach always tells us that naturally, there are going to be runs, but it depends on who’s willing to fight hardest at the end of the day,” Boston College guard Taylor Soule said postgame.
The lead changed 12 times throughout the match, though the Eagles never trailed after retaking the lead with 1:46 to play in the fourth quarter.
Duke went scoreless over the last 4:35 of play, turning the ball over four times and going 0-6 from the field. In that span, Boston College went on a 13-0 run.
“Everybody was in sync,” Boston College head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said. “Even when we got out of sync and Duke made their runs, I like the way we stuck together and played like a team. It was a total team effort.”
Soule did it all for the Eagles, scoring 26 points and grabbing eight boards. Emma Guy, the First Team All-ACC Selection for Boston College, also added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Eagles shot 54.4 percent from the floor, 60 percent (9-15) from behind the arc in the victory.
The Blue Devils shot well too, hitting on 47.7 percent of their field goals, and received 47 combined points from Haley Gorecki (25 points, 7-20 FG) and Leaonna Odom (22, 11-18 FG). The late push from Boston College was just too much to handle, though.
Duke, who is projected to be a seven seed in the NCAA Tournament by ESPN, will wait to hear their name called in the Selection Show on Monday, March 16.
According to Charlie Creme, Boston College moved into the First Four Out of the NCAA Tournament field, jumping up from the Last Four Out. If they can piece together at least one more win in Greensboro, they might find themselves dancing in late March.
Photo Credit: Liam Sment