'CUSE STUNS HEELS
Syracuse’s first ACC game at North Carolina turned into an historic night for the school for a different reason.
The Orange overcame an 18-point second half deficit to beat the Tar Heels 78-73 Thursday at Carmichael Arena.. No. 6 UNC represented the highest ranked opponent Syracuse has ever beaten on the road, and the third-highest ranked opponent overall.
The Tar Heels (17-4, 5-2 ACC), who had reached their best ranking since 2009, committed 29 turnovers against Syracuse, which used a 2-3 zone, a halfcourt trap and a fullcourt press to negate a 47-35 rebounding advantage.
Syracuse (16-5, 5-3) took its first lead of the second half with 2:42 left on the strength of a five-point play. It started when UNC center Stephanie Mavunga was assessed a technical foul by former NBA referee Dee Kantner for taunting Alexis Peterson after she blocked Peterson’s shot.
Brianna Butler made both free throws, and then hit a 3-pointer to put Syracuse ahead 72-69. Brittney Sykes then stole the ball from point guard Latifah Coleman and converted on a drive to put the Orange up by 5.
Mavunga, a freshman, said it was the first technical foul of her career.
“It was just the heat of the moment. I was really excited about the block, I guess,” Mavunga said. “It’s just hard that the game really changed right there for the most part. My teammates keep telling me keep my head up but it’s hard.”
Butler, who is fourth nationally in 3-pointers (3.4 a game), finished 4 of 9 from behind the arc and scored 22 points. Sykes, who is 10th in the ACC in points (17.6), matched her average with 17.
“They have a neon light in our system,” Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman said. “Shoot the ball whenever you’re ready.”
Raleigh Millbrook graduate Briana Day (11 points, nine rebounds) was the only other Orange player in double-figures.
UNC was led by its freshmen — Diamond DeShields had 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists, Alisha Gray had 16 points and nine rebounds and Mavunga had 16 points, eight rebounds and five blocks.
“This is the first time we’ve really had to battle like that and I would say it really is part of the maturing process,” DeShields said. “We should learn from tonight.”
A 3-point play by Mavunga put UNC up 60-47 with 13:50 left, but the Tar Heels went cold over the next seven minutes — missing eight straight shots and committing six turnovers — to allow Syracuse to get within 61-60.
Coleman made a 3-pointer to keep UNC in front momentarily, but the Orange tied the game at 65-65 on a 3 by Taylor Ford — Syracuse was 6 of 10 from behind the arc in the second half — and took the lead after the technical foul.
The Tar Heels committed 18 turnovers in the second half against Syracuse’s pressure, including nine from point guards Coleman and Jessica Washington, as the Orange beat UNC for the first time in four meetings.
“They had long defenders, especially Sykes, and I think we were just telegraphing (our passes),” DeShields said. “We were just looking and throwing and they’re going to go where you look, so they did a good job of reading our offense, reading our eyes. We need to work on ball-faking, meeting the pass — the basic things that we’re capable of doing but we didn’t do tonight.
“I’m not worried. We’re a lot better than what we did tonight.”
|SYRACUSE 78, No. 6 NORTH CAROLINA 73|
Percentages: FG .408, FT .867.
3-Point Goals: 7-17, .412 (B. Butler 4-9, Ford 1-1, Sykes 1-2, Coffey 1-4, Slim 0-1).
Team Rebounds: 8.
Blocked Shots: 4 (Brian. Day 2, Leary, B. Butler).
Turnovers: 21 (B. Butler 5, Sykes 4, Brian. Day 4, Peterson 3, Slim 2, Ford, Leary, Fondren).
Steals: 18 (Brian. Day 4, B. Butler 4, Coffey 3, Fondren 2, Sykes 2, Slim, B. Day, Peterson).
Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .429, FT .577.
3-Point Goals: 4-17, .235 (Gray 2-4, Coleman 1-1, Butts 1-1, Rountree 0-2, Washington 0-3, DeShields 0-6).
Team Rebounds: 4.
Blocked Shots: 5 (Mavunga 5).
Turnovers: 29 (Coleman 7, Washington 5, Butts 4, Rountree 3, McDaniel 3, DeShields 3, Gray 2, Mavunga 2).
Steals: 14 (Washington 3, Gray 3, DeShields 2, Rountree 2, Butts 2, McDaniel, Mavunga).
Technical Fouls: Mavunga.
Officials_Dee Kantner, Dennis DeMayo, Pualani Spurlock.