GI love the smell of the Greensboro Coliseum in March. It smells like...basketball. The anticipation surrounding this year's ACC Women's Basketball Tournament is like no other in recent history, with ACC teams dominating the national landscape. But before we get to the Notre Dames, Dukes and Louisvilles of the world, there is a day to give the little guys one last chance. That day was today.
Game One: No.12 Boston College vs. No. 13 Wake Forest
I don't care how many games Wake Forest did or didn't win this year, the Demon Deacons came into the Wednesday riding a streak of six straight wins in the tournament's opening round. Never mind the lack of consistent supporting cast for All-Everything forward Dearica Hamby, I took my seat courtside knowing, with complete confidence, that Wake Forest would win this game- big.
Win big they did, eliminating the Eagles 69-53 on the strength of Hamby's 23 points and 8 rebounds. Freshman guard Amber Campbell chipped in with 12 points, while Kay Kay Atkinson and Millesa Calicott added 9 apiece. The Deacs won the rebounding battle soundly, 38-25. What really made the difference for the Deacs, though, was their bench. Wake Forest got 17 points from their bench players on Wednesday, allowing them to pull away in the second half.
Next up: vs. No. 5 Syracuse.
Game Two: No. 10 N.C. State vs No. 15 Virginia Tech
The only game Wednesday with any suspense saw the Hokies upset tenth-seeded N.C. State, 57-56 on a buzzer-beating jumper from Hannah Young. The two teams traded the lead 11 times, and there were 11 ties. Sharpshooting guard Vanessa Panousis led the Hokies with 19 points and 8 assists with just 2 turnovers. Sidney Cook and Kelsey Conyers also reached double figures for the Hokies, scoring 10 and 12 points, respectively.
For all of Panousis and Co. efforts, though, Virginia Tech could never quite put the Wolfpack away. Guard Miah Spencer poured in 19 points of her own Wednesday, including a jumper and a free throw with 15 seconds remaining that gave the Pack a 56-55 lead. The composed Hokies then smartly put the ball in the hands of Panousis, who found Young all by her lonesome along the baseline in the corner. The jumper was good and there was much jubilation in Blacksburg. At least there was jubilation on the Hokies' bench.
Next up: vs No. 7 Pitt.
Game Three: No. 11 Georgia Tech vs. No. 14 Clemson
Let's face it: the only reason Tech is an 11 seed is because they lost senior Sydney Wallace to injury a while back and it took a while for them to find a way to replace her scoring. Despite the loss of Wallace, this talented young team still boasts Kaela Davis, Roddreka Rogers and Aaliyah Whiteside.
Clemson, on the other hand, hadn't won a damn game since January. This is basic math, folks.
Georgia Tech roared out of the locker room and torched the nets like General Sherman torched...well, that metaphor doesn't work. Anyway, they shot 58 percent from the floor in the first half (68 percent from three) and were up by 21 at halftime. A Clemson rally cut the lead to 10 briefly, before the Jackets made another run to put the game away. Whiteside finished with 23 points while Rogers went for 20 plus 14 rebounds. They hardly missed Davis, who tallied only 3 points.
Next up: vs. No. 6 North Carolina
Note: Of the teams advancing Wednesday, only Georgia Tech has a legitimate shot at an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. A win over UNC would probably be enough to get them in.