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Ex-Cuse me! Syracuse hits zone, reach ACC Title game

The zone Syracuse played made it tough for Louisville to penetrate. Asia Durr was able to hit four treys though as she scored a career high 23. ACC player of the year Myisha Hines-Allen showed up again with 27 points, 13 rebounds. The Orange however, got key play from Cornelia Fondren and Alexis Peterson once again brought her A game. Syracuse advances to first conference championship for the first time since 1988

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Greensboro, NC -- The No. 7 Louisville Cardinals battled the No. 17 Syracuse Orange, but the Cardinals came up short in an 80-75 decision.

"We did not come out and play like I thought we would," Louisville head coach Jeff Walz told the media, "We did not follow a scouting report and, unfortunately, we're not good enough to just come out and play without following a scout."

Louisville's failure to follow a scouting report was ultimately the Cardinals' demise. Louisville turned the ball over 16 times, and Syracuse converted the 16 turnovers into 21 points.

Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman credits his teams win to toughness, "It was all about toughness. When you have these short turnarounds, and you don't have a lot of time to prep, it's all about toughness, and it's about making sure that you execute your offense and play great defense."

From the tip, it was clear this was going to be a tight game.

The Cardinals won the tip and a Briana Day foul sent Myisha Hines-Allen to the line to shoot two.

Alexis Peterson fired off a shot from beyond the arc to put Syracuse up 3-2. Hines-Allen countered with a jump shot before Peterson got the ball back for a layup. Peterson's bucket sparked the Orange as they went on a 7-0 run.

Hines-Allen ended Louisville's scoring drought connecting on a jumper. However, Day countered with a layup.

At the first media timeout, Hines-Allen had all six of Louisville's points. However, Syracuse held a 12-6 lead.

A foul committed by Day sent Sam Fuehring to the line to connect on one of two. Asia Durr grabbed a quick layup and the three points by Fuehring and Durr forced a Syracuse timeout. The Orange led 12-9.

Out of the timeout, Asia Durr fired off a shot from beyond the arc to tie the game at 12. But Louisville's inability to get a defensive stop allowed Bria Day to make a crucial three-point play and put the Orange back up 15-12. Cornelia Fondren capitalized on Syracuse's momentum and fired off a jumper to extend the Orange's lead, 17-12.

Briahanna Jackson tried to shift the momentum in Louisville's favor as she connected on a layup to cut the lead to three, but back to back layups from Peterson put the Orange up 21-14 at the end of the first period.

The Cardinals committed six first period turnovers allowing Syracuse to capitalize and score eight points off the turnovers.

Louisville stepped up their shooting game in the second period connecting on 7-of-14 from the floor and edging the Orange, 19-18.

Brianna Butler kicked the period off hitting a three to put Syracuse up by 10.

Arica Carter scored the first bucket for the Cardinals in the second period. A missed jump shot by Brittney Sykes and a defensive rebound by Jackson followed by a layup plus one allowed the Cardinals to knock five points off the Syracuse lead. However, each time Louisville would gain momentum, the Orange would knock them back down.

Back to back threes from Taylor Ford and Maggie Morrison put Syracuse back up by 11.

A last second three by Jackson brought the Cardinals closer as the Orange led 39-33 at the half.

The Cardinals entered the third period with a vengeance, outscoring the Orange, 29-23.

With 5:38 remaining the period, Butler picked up her fourth foul sending Taja Cole to the line. Cole missed both free throws, but Cortnee Walton grabbed the offensive board and set Durr up for a three. Louisville cut the Syracuse lead to three.

Hines-Allen and Durr were on fire for Louisville scoring 13 and 10 points respectively in the third. The combined 23 points propelled Louisville and allowed the Cardinals to tie the game at 62 heading into the final period.

Briana Day and Hines-Allen traded layups to kick off the final period. Durr and Jackson scored a quick four points for the Cardinals to take the lead, 68-64. However, Louisville's inability to execute down the stretch plagued the Cardinals in the final period.

"I think we had a four-point lead there, and all we've got to do is get a defensive board, and it turns into a three-point play for them," Coach Walz said in the press conference,"We got out-hustled and out-toughed at crunch time."

The Syracuse Orange broke down the Louisville Cardinals in an 80-75 decision.

Myisha Hines-Allen recorded her 11th double-double of the season with 27 points (9-of-13 from the field) and 12 rebounds. Asia Durr racked up 23 points for the Cardinals to go along with two steals. Briahanna Jackson rounded out the top scorers chipping in 18 points and nine rebounds.

Syracuse had four players post double-digits: Alexis Peterson paced the Orange putting up 19 points. Cornelia Fondren earned a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Brianna Butler added 12 points including a pair from beyond the arc and Briana Day rounded out the top scorers putting up 11 points.

Syracuse's bench was crucial for the victory grabbing 32 points.

Briana Day spoke of her team's depth, "I know we have people who can come in regardless if they're playing a lot or not to just come in and give us that spark, and that's all that matters."

No. 17 Syracuse will face the No. 2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish tomorrow in the ACC Women's Tournament Championship.