CONWAY, South Carolina - North Carolina had its run through the Atlantic Coast Conference Women’s Basketball Tournament come to an end on Thursday night after an 83-64 second-round setback at the hands of No. 21 Syracuse from the HTC Center.
A night after upsetting the 11th-seeded Pitt Panthers, North Carolina (15-16) was unable to overcome the Orange’s 50-23 rebound advantage and a combined 45 points from Alexis Peterson (29) and Brittney Sykes (16).
Jamie Cherry and Paris Kea continued their torrid scoring pace for the Tar Heels. A night removed from scoring a career-high 32 points, Cherry scored 24 points, while Kea had 17 and Olivia Smith added 12.
Syracuse (21-9) also did well with its pressure defense that forced Carolina into 17 turnovers. Those miscues directly resulted in 27 points for the Orange, who will face third-seed Duke in the last of four quarterfinal games on Friday.
The game featured eight made three-pointers in the first five minutes, 30 seconds of the game. Each team made four from beyond the arc, and when the dust settled at the first media timeout Syracuse led 21-14.
Cherry scored 14 points alone in the first period, but the Orange enjoyed a 30-23 lead after a high-scoring 10 minutes.
Emily Sullivan gave the Heels solid minutes in the first half. Her layup cut the deficit to 34-28, but the Orange, behind ACC Player of the Year Peterson who scored 20 points in the first half, scored 11 of the final 17 points to take a 45-34 lead into halftime.
Syracuse increased its lead to 20, 60-40, in the third quarter, however, Kea’s triple out of a timeout capped a 9-2 run that pumped life into a Carolina team that was now down only 62-49.
Momentum swung back in favor of the Orange after a quick 8-0 run, and led by no fewer than 17 points in the fourth quarter.
Each team knocked down 11 three-pointers in the game.