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Day 1: ACC Women’s Basketball Tournament Recap

All the sights, sounds and the games from the opening day at Greensboro Coliseum.

5:45am Championship Week began for me as I hit the road. Amazingly for me, I left right on time. Gassed up in Durham where gas was $2.87/gallon. Score!

12:00 noon Pulled into Greensboro Coliseum. After a messy week trying to get my tickets arranged — they disappeared into the ether, which is why I hate, hate, hate the pay wallet regime — I got parked without a problem and the tickets were waiting at will call. Ticketmaster sucks. I’ll be so happy when Congress finally steps all over their monopoly. Will-call is just incredibly civilized.

1:00 The Virginia Cavaliers and Wake Forest Demon Deacons tip off. London Clarkson is done serving her suspension but Yonta Vaughn has not made the trip. Virginia will still be shorthanded this tournament.

1:23 Virginia has chosen the worst possible time to deliver their worst quarter of the season. Camryn Taylor: 6 points. Rest of the Team: 2 points. And Virginia is down 19-8. Virginia just keeps digging themselves into holes.

1:48 Virginia, to no one’s surprise, has come storming back and the deficit, after an Alexia Smith steal and layup, is down to one.

1:52 Wake just scored nine straight points. Good feeling gone.

2:31 The ACC has bought a LOT of promotional shirts for this tournament. The guy sitting in front of me already has two shirts, one wristband (he’s not too happy that it’s NC State colors,) and one mini basketball. Not a lot of arm strength in the folks tossing the swag into the stands.

2:47 Virginia makes two runs, falls just short, and loses by double figures. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. This doesn’t look like a team that is going to garner much interest for the NIT. Coach Mox understandably seems ready to pull the plug on this season and get ready for next year with a number of highly touted recruits coming in.

3:10 Pretty anemic attendance unfortunately. It’s a shame that the ACC hasn’t released it, even though figures for the 6:30 game will be out by the time I’m writing this down. It’s so quiet in here that we all can hear the guy in Section 117 who is trying to have a conversation with the referees.

3:20 Interesting chat with Norm in the VIP lounge (I’m never a VIP, so I have to brag about it when it actually happens to me). Norm is quite flexible as a fan. He was a Notre Dame fan when he lived in Indiana. Now that he lives in Durham, he’s a Duke fan. He actually found someone close to the Notre Dame program to see if there was any news on Olivia Miles’ status. That info might as well be a state secret. When Zion Williamson blew out his shoe on national TV, it was an ESPN headlining story; Coach K had to address his injury. Unfortunately, since not enough people care about women’s hoops, Fighting Irish coach Niele Ivey can sit on this info. Which is just keeping this sport small. Sigh.

3:32 Each team gets to perform their own promotional video before lineups are announced. Clemson’s was better than Pitt’s. 1-0 in favor of the Tigers. But Pitt’s Hype Line and secret handshake/chicken dance was much better than Clemson’s. So it’s all tied-up in the meaningless factors metric.

3:35 Clemson’s first possession? Three offensive boards, but they failed to score. Pitt’s first possession? Shot clock violation. Maybe there’s a reason these teams are playing on Wednesday.

3:45 Alley Oop! You don’t see that often in women’s hoops, but Clemson’s Daisha Bradford finds Kionna Gaines in full flight.

3:53 Clemson’s got somebody very short for a mascot. Seriously, it’s easily a foot shorter than the Pitt Panther.

4:03 Hey! I’m on the Jumbotron. I was wearing the same shirt and Edgar Allen Poe socks that I wore to our win over NC State two weeks ago. Didn’t help.

4:05 Hannah Hank is putting on a show for Clemson. Nine points, two blocks, a couple rebounds this quarter.

4:09 Ale’Jah Douglas, the smallest woman on the court, is putting on a defensive show for Clemson. She’s a one-woman press. Twice now she has, all by herself, stolen the ball from a pair of Panthers as they struggle to get the ball cross-court. Maybe that’s why Clemson is up 31-18 with just 2:13 left in the first half.

4:45 Clemson scores the first five points of the second half. This game is over. Hannah Hank will set a career high 19 points and Clemson will be the only team playing on Wednesday to be effective from deep — 11 for 25 — and will win easily 71-53.

5:06 I repair to the VIP lounge to write my Plus/Minus for the Virginia game.

5:16 Now I know why I don’t do VIP lounges. VIP lounges means alcohol, which means drunks. And that means drunks who aren’t watching the games. In this case, it’s NC State drunks. Sheesh.

6:15 It’s Battle of the Bands as Georgia Tech prepares to take on Boston College. BC’s band is better but Tech’s is louder. And they’re dancing. I’ll call it a tie.

6:20 Tech’s Cameron Swartz, who exploded for 20 points last game out, is hitting everything in warmups.

6:28 Boston College is winning this. Their Hype Line was great — Georgia Tech barely even registered — and BC’s promotional vid is awesome! It shows them out and about in Boston, showing them as being an urban school. Hands down best video of the day.

6:35 Swartz airballs her first three.

7:12 BC’s T’Yana Todd has broken this game open. Tech was ahead after one quarter, but Todd was put in at the top of BC’s 1-3-1 zone and she has single-handedly wrecked Tech’s ball movement. She’s long, she’s engaged, and she hasn’t fouled. She’s a one-man high hedge. BC goes from down 12-9 at the end of one, to going into the half leading 27-18. Todd hasn’t scored a point, and yet she’s won them this game.

7:34 Amazingly bad Wi-Fi here at the Coliseum. I keep getting knocked off every 10 minutes.

8:10 It’s that kind of day for Tech’s Cameron Swartz. Struggling for a held ball, she throws an elbow, gets a flagrant (which is her fifth) and fouls out with as many fouls as points.

8:15 6:10 left in the fourth, and these two teams are a combined 3-20 from deep. Maybe there’s a reason they’re playing on Wednesday…

8:18 3:07 left in the game, Tech is storming back, a la Virginia, and this is the biggest shot of the day:

Three points is as close as Georgia Tech would get, but that was a money shot from Bianca Jackson.

8:24 Hopefully Virginia’s players will watch Georgia Tech actually foul correctly. BC’s Dontavia Waggoner makes Tech pay, going 4-4 from the charity stripe in the last 50 seconds to secure the win.

8:26 Thursday’s slate is set:

Wake Forest vs Florida State 11:00am

Syracuse vs NC State 2:00pm

Clemson vs UNC 6:00pm

Miami vs Boston College 8:00pm