GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) – Cornelia Fondren matched her career high of 18 points and hit two critical free throws with 18.1 seconds left to help No. 17 Syracuse beat No. 7 Louisville 80-75 in the semifinals Saturday at the Atlantic Coast Conference women's tournament.
Alexis Peterson scored 19 points to lead the third-seeded Orange (25-6), who outlasted the second-seeded Cardinals (25-7) in a tight finish to earn their first trip to the ACC title game and a date with No. 2 Notre Dame on Sunday.
Fondren, a 5-foot-8 senior averaging 6.5 points and 5.5 rebounds off the bench, also set a career high with 13 rebounds. And despite coming in as a 60 percent shooter at the foul line, Fondren calmly sunk two with 18.1 seconds left for a 78-75 lead.
Then, after Briahanna Jackson missed a 3-pointer, Brianna Butler hit two free throws with 5.5 seconds left to seal the win.
Syracuse was trying to reach just its third conference tournament final in its history, the other two being when it won the 1985 Big East title, then lost in the 1988 Big East final, according to STATS. The Orange lost in the quarterfinals two years ago in their first ACC tournament appearance, then in last season's second round.
Syracuse had won 13 of 15 coming in, with the only losses coming to Notre Dame and Louisville.
ACC player of the year Myisha Hines-Allen had 27 points and 12 rebounds to lead Louisville, which was in a conference tournament semifinal for the fourth straight season dating to its time in the Big East.
The Orange got off to a fast start and led by 12 early in the second quarter, though Louisville closed that gap to 39-33 by halftime and then tied it entering the final period.
Louisville led 73-69 late, but Butler knocked down a 3-pointer, then Fondren followed with a pair of go-ahead free throws with 2:45 left to make it 74-73. Butler, who had been quiet much of the day because of foul trouble, followed with a key jumper to push the lead to three.
Louisville's Taja Cole scored on a runner near the 1-minute mark to get Louisville within 76-75, but the Cardinals couldn't push back ahead.
Syracuse: Syracuse scored 21 points off turnovers. . The Orange made just 6 of 27 3-pointers (22 percent). . Butler finished with 12 points on 4-for-11 shooting.
Louisville: Asia Durr scored a career-high 23 points. . No. 2 scorer Mariya Moore went scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting a day after a rough performance against Georgia Tech in the quarterfinals. . Louisville committed 16 turnovers.
Syracuse plays No. 2 Notre Dame in Sunday's championship game.