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DWHoops Presents ACC Women's Basketball Digest

  Weekly ACC WBB Digest for 12/25/2013
Volume 3, Number 6
By Rob Clough

Digest ACC Power Rankings

#1 Duke 12-1
#2 Notre Dame 10-0
#3 North Carolina 11-2
#4 Maryland 10-1
#5 Syracuse 11-1
#6 Florida State 11-1
#7 NC State 11-1
#8 Georgia Tech 8-3
#9 Virginia Tech 9-2
#10 Miami 6-4
#11 Boston College 7-5
#12 Wake Forest 7-4
#13 Virginia 5-6
#14 Pittsburgh 7-6
#15 Clemson 7-5

Editor's Note: Our sidebar is are presented in pink in
remembrance of Kay Yow
Editor's Note: North Carolina's win 74-66 win over #10 South Carolina overlapped our production schedule last week, so it is covered in this week's Digest.

Parsing The Week's Results:

This was a big week for many ACC teams, as any number of showdowns against ranked opponents was on the schedule. NC State and UNC both scored big wins (see below), but there several other games with significant consequences. Duke bounced back from their convincing defeat at the hands of UConn to beat Albany after a first half scare. Then they went to Rupp Arena and controlled #5 Kentucky for forty minutes, using their superior size at nearly every position to attack in the paint, win the battle of the boards and protect the the rim. Nearly 23,000 fans attended this game, the most for any women's basketball game ever held in Kentucky. You can read our coverage of this game at DWHoops including a feature on the Louisville perspective.

Syracuse and FSU picked up a pair of wins. For the Orange, the win over Niagara was a gimme, but St Joseph's was a far tougher opponent. The Hawks led by as many as 14 in the first half before the Orange stormed back behind Brianna Butler to take a 3 point lead at intermission. The Hawks struck back and led by ten early in the second half, but the Orange fought back to retake the lead late in the game. Former Maryland Terp Natasha Cloud hit a shot with 21 seconds left to tie the game, but Brittany Sykes (who scored 8 of her team's last 11 points) hit a shot with three seconds left to win. Florida State didn't shoot well from long range against Pacific, but they did preserve a close win at the foul line. In the second game of the Beach Classic, they crushed host Long Beach State thanks to yet another rock-solid performance by Natasha Howard and great overall defense.

Georgia Tech picked up a split in a pair of difficult games. When they are hitting from three, as they did in a rout of previously undefeated UTEP, they can be tough to stop. The Jackets dropped 102 points on the Miners and were 8-20 from three. When the long range shots aren't falling, as in their close loss to Oklahoma State, they have a tough time finding other ways to generate offense. They were just 4-24 from distance in this game, yet their depth prevented the game from getting out of hand. At the same time, #13 OK State simply held them at arm's length most of the way. Miami dropped a tough game to Arizona State, a team that's now 3-0 vs. ACC opponents this season. The Canes trailed most of the way but staged a furious comeback late in the second half, pulling to within 74-73 with ten seconds left. Miami then forced a turnover, but then immediately turned it over themselves. Despite the road loss, Miami played with a lot of fire, competed hard on the boards, and got a great performance from what should be (and who isn't always) their best player, Suriya McGuire.

In less competitive games, Virginia Tech crushed nearby school Radford by nearly fifty points, giving its bench ample opportunity to get some good minutes in. Wake Forest quietly kept winning against lesser foes as they easily dispatched South Alabama; the dynamic duo of Dearica Hamby and Chelsea Douglas combined for 51 points, but the rest of the bench some run too, scoring 41. Notre Dame crushed a solid Central Michigan team, as Jewel Loyd matched Crystal Bradford with 30 points, and the Irish's superior depth did the rest. Boston College broke open a tight game and whipped Holy Cross in the second half, thanks to hitting a stunning ten treys.

Best Win: NC State 89, LSU 79. The Wolfpack Women had a good record to start the year under Wes Moore but had yet to play a ranked team. They had the good fortune of playing the Tigers in Reynolds after losing in Baton Rouge last year, and NC State led most of the way in a resume-building contest. 6-6 Markeisha Gatling dominated LSU inside with 25 points and 8 rebounds while Kody Burke got 25 points in a variety of ways. Guard Len'Nique Brown stretched LSU's defense with a quartet of treys. State doesn't have the personnel to be a great defensive team at the moment, but they certainly have the pieces to put up a lot of points, and that's just what happened here. Read our full Digest coverage including photos right here.

Worst Loss: UNLV 63, Clemson 54. While this was a true road game, the Rebels were just 1-7 coming into this contest. The Tigers were only in this game because guard Kelly Gramlich hit seven three pointers; Clemson was otherwise 14-49 from the field. The Tigers also sent the Rebels to the foul line 25 times and only made it their twice, a sure sign of a lack of communication on the defensive end. Pettaway did bounce back with 22 points in the win over Creighton, but an average Oregon State club drubbed the Tigers in the third game of the Duel in the Desert as Clemson was held to 28% shooting.

Trending Up: UNC. Their win over #10 South Carolina was validation for the decision to start all four freshmen along with soph Xylina McDaniel. This was a great win because it wasn't just a case of the Heels playing hard and with a lot of energy. They always do that. This was a case of the Heels playing smart, understanding their advantages as a team and not unraveling when the Gamecocks came within two points in the second half. It was heartening because the Heels are slowly starting to understand and accept their roles. McDaniel and Mavunga are the team's top two choices on offense, and it's the job of the guard to get them the ball in good scoring position. Their job is to play defense and get rebounds. Result: a combined 34 points and 19 rebounds. Diamond DeShields is also figuring things out, as she's working harder on the boards, taking better shots (including fewer perimeter shots when she's not hot) and shrugging off physical play. Allisha Gray is the floor-stretcher who can also attack the basket and Jessica Washington is there to manage the offense and apply ball pressure. They're getting decent contributions from their bench, with different players contributing every night. The strength of that bench was on display against an overmatched High Point squad, where the bench racked up 46 points. UNC looks ready for the game-to-game rigors of ACC season. The only lingering question is an injury that DeShields sustained when she landed hard on her hand. If it's not significant, then the Heels are in great shape. Even better news, Sylvia Hatchell may be back for the ACC Tournament, if her treatment continues to go well.

Trending Down: Pitt. Clemson and Pitt seem to be in a grim race for worst team in the ACC, and it's difficult to tell who's going to get to the finish line quicker. Playing in the other half of the Duel in the Desert, the Panthers also dropped two of three games, including a double digit loss to DePaul and a fairly competitive loss to a mediocre Washington squad. Brianna Kiesel is the only player consistently keeping the Panthers afloat on a game-to-game basis, though Asia Logan and Loliya Briggs both had good weeks. It's hard to see this club pulling an upset over very many ACC teams.

Surprise Player Of The Week: Briana Day, Syracuse. The one-time UNC commit has been slow to make a big impact for the Orange, but she certainly came through when needed this week. She was solid with 6 points and 7 rebounds against Niagara, but it was her 10 points, 11 rebounds and 3 blocks against St Joe's that truly stood out. Few teams in the ACC have the depth to match Syracuse in the post, especially in terms of how much scoring the Orange can generate in the paint.

Stat Of the Week: Four. That's the number of players who fouled out in Virginia's strange OT loss to Tulane. The Green Wave are a solid but not great team but they built a twenty point lead late in the first half against a punchless Virginia squad. Then Lexie Gerson hit a trio of treys to bring her team back into the game, scratching and clawing until the very end. In regulation, Tulane had a chance to win the game at the line but missed a free throw that sent it into overtime. Virginia finally ran out of players at that point, especially up front, and Tulane pulled away in the extra period. There were at least signs of life from Gerson and wing Ataira Franklin, along with a double-double by Sarah Imovbioh, but Virginia simply dug themselves too deep a hole to pull themselves out of it completely. To their credit, the Hoos picked up a big road win against Florida Gulf Coast, as the increasingly-healthy Tiffany Suarez scored 13 points to help key a rare Virginia rout.

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Three Games To Watch (12/25 - 12/31):
  1. Middle Tennessee @ Clemson (12/29, 2pm) Middle Tennessee has already beaten Miami and gave Tennessee and Kentucky all they wanted before losing. The Tigers will have to play their best game of the season if they hope to pull an upset.

  2. Duquesne @ Pitt (12/29, 6pm) Coach Suzie McConnell-Serio's new team will take on her old team in a backyard battle. The Dukes have lost four games, all to quality opponents, so they will have a leg up on the Panthers, who are still struggling to find an identity.

  3. Syracuse @ Arizona State (12/30, 8pm) The Sun Devils have already taken down two ACC teams in UNC and Miami. A road win here would continue to boost the Orange's rankings and RPI, but ASU's platoon style of substitution will sorely test Syracuse's depth.

Also, the Digest will be on hand in Atlanta for the championship game of Georgia Tech's holiday tournament, most likely against upset-minded Hampton.

If you enjoy our weekly Digest, please support our work by purchasing our 2014 ACC Annual for just $6.95. The Annual contains all the information you'll need to follow the league's 15 teams throughout the season! Your purchase also includes a free site membership good through November 17, 2014! The Annual will be published soon, as we are still busily incorporating the final information from this month's play. Members can anticipate some early material available for download later this week. Merry Christmas to all!


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