SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP)Quentin Hillsman fought back his emotions after a signature win – for the coach and his program.
Kiara Lewis scored 24 points, and Syracuse shut down No. 5 Louisville for a 59-51 victory on Sunday.
Syracuse, which beat Boston College on Thursday night, gave Hillsman his 300th career win. It also was the Orange’s third win against a ranked team this season, helping their bid for a postseason spot.
”No win is more important than any other win. This is a little bit more important, beating a top-five team this late in the season,” said Hillsman, in his 14th year at Syracuse. ”This is really important and big for us and big for our season. The girls just played really hard. They were aggressive. When you play hard, it gives you a chance to win games.”
Maeva Djaldi-Tabdi had 12 points for the Orange (12-11, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), and Emily Engstler finished with eight points and nine rebounds.
Hillsman has led the Orange to 11 straight 20-win seasons and seven straight NCAA Tournament appearances. The Orange reached the national championship game in 2016, losing to UConn.
”It’s amazing. It’s hard to put it into words,” said Hillsman, who succeeded Keith Cieplicki in 2006. ”You come here and you get your first one and you’re really happy. I remember my first one and how that felt. I’ve just been blessed … to have people that supported me from Day One.”
Louisville (21-3 10-2) was coming off a 67-59 home loss to No. 17 Florida State on Thursday night. The Cardinals shot 34.4% against the Seminoles, and had similar trouble against the Orange.
Louisville dropped to 20-2 in conference road games the past three seasons, with the only other loss coming against No. 1 Notre Dame just over a year ago. The Cardinals had not lost back-to-back games since February 2017.
Jazmine Jones led Louisville with 15 points. Dana Evans had 13 points on 4-of-17 shooting, and Kylee Shook had five points and 13 rebounds.
Louisville, which entered the game leading the ACC in shooting at 45.7%, finished 19 of 54 for 35.2% in its lowest scoring game of the season.
”If you can’t score 70 points, you’re probably not going to win most games,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. ”We just couldn’t put the ball in the basket. It was more about what they did defensively. We’re going to keep grinding.”
After Evans hit a 3 to tie it at 15 early in the second, the Orange closed the period with a 15-5 run for a 30-20 halftime lead. Lewis started the key stretch with a 3 from the top of the key and finished it with a floater in the lane at the buzzer.
The Cardinals got 3s from Evans and Jessica Laemmie to close to 30-26 early in the third, but Lewis responded for the Orange. After Bionca Dunham hit a jumper to trim Syracuse’s lead to 34-30, Lewis countered with a driving layup through traffic. When Jones converted a follow, Lewis responded with a 3 from the top of the key at the shot-clock buzzer.
”It kind of gave everyone momentum on the court,” Lewis said of her clock-beating 3. ”It was just open and I took it.”
A layup by Lewis in the final minute of the third gave the Orange a 41-32 lead.
In the first five minutes of play, the teams combined to shoot 3 of 13 with 10 turnovers. They settled down to make nine of next 15 shots as the Orange led 15-12 after one.
Louisville: Louisville entered the game leading the ACC at 16.4 assists per game and was second in assist-to-turnover ratio at 1.17. The Cardinals finished with nine assists and 22 turnovers and committed 24 personal fouls, compared to 14 for the Orange.
Syracuse: The Orange are 3-5 against nationally ranked teams this season, including a 62-58 loss to the Cardinals to open conference play in late December. They also defeated then-No. 8 Florida State at home in overtime last month and beat then-No. 19 Michigan State in December.
”I really like this team. They’ve got good post play, good guard play,” Walz said of the Orange. ”They played a pretty darn good schedule … but it’s not good if you don’t win. You do something like this, now you get to a point and you’re grinding every single game because you’ve got to get wins.”
Louisville: Travels to North Carolina State on Thursday night.
Syracuse: Travels to North Carolina on Thursday night.
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