February 12, 2024 

ACC notebook: Hokies take down NC State, Syracuse exacts revenge on Cards and Tar Heels suffer third loss in a row

In the latest ACC notebook: Hokies take down NC State, Syracuse gets revenge on Cards and Tar Heels suffer third loss in a row

Even with the postseason in sight, there is still no consistency amongst the top teams in the ACC. Week 14 was fraught with upsets — Virginia Tech over NC State, Duke over Carolina, Syracuse over Louisville — which are sure to make an exciting next couple of weeks as teams scramble for the top seeds in the upcoming conference tournament.

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Here’s your week 14 roundup of ACC play.

What everybody’s talking about: Hokies upset No. 3 Wolfpack at Reynolds

Virginia Tech bested NC State for the second time this season on Thursday behind a 25-point, 13-rebound performance from graduate center Elizabeth Kitley. The Wolfpack scored just 11 points in the third quarter and collected 31 rebounds — well below its 44-rebound average — to the Hokies’ 48 en route to a 72-61 loss. 

Despite the Pack’s proven ability to defeat top-ranked teams — UConn, Colorado, Louisville — it just can’t seem to find a way past the reigning ACC champion Hokies. The red-and-white has won 26 of the two teams’ 32 total matchups but have been 0-4 against Virginia Tech since February 2022. 

This game has implications for both teams as tournament time draws nearer. For NC State, it raises concerns about the team’s ability to defend talented centers, especially after graduate center River Baldwin came back from injury and is still getting back to top form. For Virginia Tech, its performance against the red-and-white is evidence of the fact that the Kitley-Amoore duo is as unstoppable as ever and has the power to take the team far in the postseason for the second consecutive year.  

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This caught my attention: Syracuse dethrones Louisville, Virginia Tech takes top spot

In the teams’ second matchup in as many weeks, the Orange secured a thrilling come-from-behind win over the Cardinals on its home court. Louisville held the lead until less than three minutes remained in the game, but Syracuse’s lockdown defense kept the Cardinals at bay and allowed graduate guard Dyaisha Fair to seal the game 73-72 with two free throws when just two seconds were left on the clock. 

With the win, the Orange successfully avenged the 81-69 loss it suffered in Kentucky on Feb. 1. But the effects of Syracuse’s victory extend beyond the scope of one game — Syracuse knocked Louisville out of the number one spot in the ACC and allowed the Hokies to jump from first to third. The constant shuffling in the top spots as the ACC nears the end of its regular season emphasizes the fact that the competition for first in the conference is tight and it’s nearly impossible to predict who the ACC tournament champion will be, or even which two teams will advance to the title game. 

Other notable headlines

Duke upsets Carolina 

The Blue Devils defeated North Carolina 68-60 in a heated rivalry game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Sunday. Two free throws from Duke’s Oluchi Okananwa with 90 seconds to play in regulation pushed the game into overtime, where the Blue Devils outscored the Heels 15-7 to seal the victory. 

The Tar Heels have been slipping recently after consistently ranking in the top-25 for the majority of the season. Carolina is currently riding a four-game losing streak that began with an 81-66 road loss to Virginia on Jan. 28.

Meanwhile, Duke is on a three-game win streak but is in for a brutal awakening in the coming weeks. In a span of two weeks, the Blue Devils are slated to face Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Syracuse and NC State in consecutive games. 

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Hidalgo leads Irish past Seminoles in high-scoring 2OT thriller

The Fighting Irish visited Florida State this past weekend to hand the Noles a 98-94 loss after two overtime sessions. Florida State guard Ta’Niya Latson led all scorers with 34 points — her sixth 30-point game this season — but it wasn’t enough to thwart an unrelenting Notre Dame squad. 

In both the fourth quarter and the first overtime period, it was the Irish that came from behind to force an extra session. The visitors’ consistently high energy and refusal to quit quickly turned the contest into a battle of endurance that the Irish’s powerful arsenal of quick and agile guards knew it could win. 

Notably, Notre Dame guard Hannah Hidalgo’s five steals against Florida State brought her total to 115 steals on the season, an Irish single-season program record. Hidalgo also surpassed 530 points this week, breaking the program’s freshman scoring record. 

Virginia’s freshman duo shines

Freshman guards Kymora Johnson and Olivia McGhee combined for 45 points in the Cavaliers’ 87-79 win over Wake Forest on Sunday. McGhee’s 22 points bested her previous career high of 14 while Johnson’s 23 points marked her fifth 20-plus point effort in Virginia’s last seven games. Johnson has scored 363 points this season and averages 15.1 per game. 

Although the Cavaliers currently sit near the bottom of the ACC standings with a 4-9 conference record, these two dynamic guards have shown the potential to make Virginia a big name in the ACC in the coming years.

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This week in ACC action

  • Thursday: NC State plays Notre Dame at 6 p.m. ET
  • Thursday: Syracuse plays Miami at 6 p.m. ET
  • Thursday: Duke plays Virginia Tech at 8 p.m. ET
  • Sunday: Virginia Tech plays Louisville at 2 p.m. ET
  • Sunday: Florida State plays Miami at 4 p.m. ET

Written by Jenna Cuniowski

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