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No. 21 Orange gets crushed by Duke’s ‘elite’ superstar

In a top-25 matchup, No. 13 Duke faced off against No. 21 Syracuse in the quarterfinals of the ACC Conference Tournament. The first 2 quarters were tight, but out of intermission, the Blue Devils took off and never looked back.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Duke at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Conway, SC — Lexie Brown and the No. 13 Duke Blue Devils crushed the No. 21 Syracuse Orange 68-46 in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament.

ACC Player of the Year Alexis Peterson was no match for Brown, who commanded the court and finished the game with 23 points. Brown had three triples and seven field goals. Peterson struggled on the night, as she scored a mere nine points, on 4-21 (0-7 from deep).

“She's an elite player, one of the best in the country, and she's just working on her game,” Duke Head Coach Joanne McCallie said about Brown. “Always trying to get better, great work ethic, pushes her teammates, and just has a great intensity about her.”

Gabby Cooper led the Orange as the game commenced, scoring the first points of the game with a three-pointer. But Cooper was just getting started with this shot, finishing the game with six three-pointers —four in the first half alone.

While Cooper fired up Syracuse in the first quarter, the Blue Devils were struggling offensively with eight turnovers in the first quarter. Rebecca Greenwell gave Duke a slim lead in the first period, but the Orange stayed on their tails by taking advantage of the Blue Devil’s turnovers.

Syracuse took a slim lead with only seconds left on the clock in the opening stanza, but Brown changed the momentum of the game in favor of the Blue Devils in the last minute of the quarter as she scored almost at will.

Three-pointers continued to characterize the offensive approach for both teams in the second quarter with two from Cooper and two from Brown. Cooper was finishing shot after shot, but it wasn’t enough without Alexis Peterson on her A game, to steal the lead. However, even with Peterson not hitting shots, Duke was not able pull away in the first half, up 29-26 at intermission.

Duke started off the third period with another turnover, but Syracuse could not make their shot fall on the other end. The Orange was shooting at a 22% accuracy in the third quarter.

“So it's one of those things where you can't blame it on anything but us not making shots, and we got the looks that we wanted,” Syracuse Head Coach Quentin Hillsman said.

The Blue Devils began to pull away when Cooper finished a jumper which gave Duke a six-point lead. Oderah Chidom built on this momentum with multiple shots that made her the leading scorer for the Blue Devils in the third stanza.

Brown went off again, owning the court offensively and defensively, landing a three-pointer for Duke, then stealing the ball back from Syracuse.

A layup by Peterson brought the Orange within three points of the Blue Devils in the last minutes of the third, but the Blue Devils took off on a scoring streak that sent them into the fourth quarter with a 51-39 lead.

As the final quarter commenced, both teams experienced a two-and-a-half-minute scoring drought. Briana Day ended the drought with two free throws for the Orange.

But it was no match for Brown, who brought her point total to 20 points early in the fourth quarter with a three-pointer. On the night, she had a game-high 22 points. Cooper brought her scoring total to 18 points in the fourth quarter with her sixth three-pointer of the night.

Unfortunately, Peterson only tallied 9 points, which ended her streak of scoring in double-digits. The absence of Peterson’s scoring was even more evident as Syracuse posted the lowest scoring total all season with only 46 points.

The Blue Devils propelled themselves into the semi-finals with a 68-46 victory over the Orange. Duke will face Miami in the semifinals on Saturday at 2 p.m. E.T.