GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – Syracuse doesn’t live on 3-pointers alone, but coach Quentin Hillsman’s squad can be next to impossible to contain when its long-range shots find their mark.
Sixth-seeded NC State could attest to that fact after a barrage of third-quarter shots from beyond the arc lifted the third-seeded Orange from a one-point deficit into firm control of the final quarterfinal game of Friday’s ACC Women’s Tournament session.
Five 3-pointers in a span of two minutes – two by Alexis Peterson and then three straight by Taylor Ford – gave Syracuse an almost sudden nine-point lead, and it rode the wave to an 80-61 victory.
The Orange (24-6) advanced to face second-seeded Louisville (25-6) in Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. semifinal game. The Cardinals posted a 71-53 win when the teams met at the Carrier Dome on Jan. 25, but Syracuse has not lost since and carries a 10-game winning streak into Saturday’s rematch.
NC State (20-11) entered Friday night’s game with an RPI of 46 and remains hopeful its resume will merit an NCAA Tournament slot when berths are announced on Monday, March 14.
Syracuse finished the night a collective 12-of-27 from 3-point range. Peterson finished with 18 points, and Brianna Butler added 17 for the Orange. Brittney Sykes had 15, and Ford and Cornelia Fondren each scored 10.
NC State’s Miah Spencer led all scorers with 22 points. Jennifer Mathurin finished with 14, and Chelsea Nelson had 12.
With Butler connecting on five of six 3-point shot attempts – most from extraordinarily long range – Syracuse led 34-28 heading into the halftime break. The Wolfpack, which had trailed by as many as 10 points, closed within one with less than a minute remaining in the first half. But a Butler three, followed by Alexis Peterson’s two free throws, pushed the Orange’s lead back to six points.
Nelson’s nine first-half points led NC State, which outshot Syracuse from the floor but made only three of nine free-throw attempts in the first 20 minutes while yielding 12 second-chance points.
With Syracuse scoring just one point in the first three minutes of the second half, the Wolfpack put together a mini-run to grab the lead at 37-35 on Mathurin’s layup at the 7:13 mark of the third quarter.
But the 3-point flurry by Peterson and Ford produced a deafening answer, and the Orange will return to the Coliseum on Saturday afternoon.