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Day 3 Diary: ACC Women’s Basketball Recap

Val’s getting a little punchy in Tournament Town, but here are the sights, sounds and action from the women’s tourney.

10:45 Wake Forest vs Louisville.

It’s Friday, so that means more school kids. Brilliant move on the part of organizers and the Coliseum because the atmosphere is through the roof when they’re here. Wake Forest has again won the seeding battle, because they get to play before a raucous crowd for the second straight game. Wake has more kids behind their end zone — and they’re louder — than does Louisville.

10:55 Union Hill Elementary performs the national anthem. It’s a larger chorus than yesterday’s Alamance Elementary, and somehow they’re quieter.

10:57 I still like the Wake Forest promotional video. As for the introductions, it appears Kaia Harrison is still out.

11:00 Louisville’s vid has the best single highlight thus far: Hailey Van Lith spiking a three-pointer into the stands. Advantage Louisville. I guess.

11:10 Louisville comes out of the gates with full-court pressure. Given that Wake is down a point guard, this makes sense. The adult Louisville contingent is the loudest thus far. Louisville hits a three, they’re up 5-0 and Wake’s Megan Gebbia calls a timeout 90 seconds in.

11:12 Wake’s Elise Williams answers with her own three late in the shot clock. She’s got ice water in her veins. Wake’s kids are louder than Louisville’s adults.

11:13 Jewel Spear’s first two shots have bounced all over the rim and back before falling out.

11:15 Wake’s Demeara Hinds is called for a travel off a gorgeous Spear feed. It’s criminal that the women are called for this stuff. A guy would never be whistled for that.

11:16 Oh wait, Kaia Harrison is here.

11:18 Hailey Van Lith is on fire. 3-3 from deep, she’s got 11 points. Louisville up 14-6.

11:20 The fix is in, apparently. One ref has called all four of Wake’s fouls. One was tacky; another was simply committed by a Louisville player.

11:23 The Louisville press is disrupting Wake. All their shots are rushed, coming late in the shot clock. End of the first quarter, it’s Louisville up 20-8. Van Lith has 17 of those points.

11:32 Louisville D is eating Wake up. There’s very little movement in Wake’s offense and they are called for a pair of shot clock violations in three trips down the court.

11:45 Seven points in 37 seconds has Louisville calling a timeout. The half is going to end with Louisville holding a 34-24 lead. Wake was in worse shape yesterday, of course.

11:50 Great half time show, some guy named Steve Max calls out a game of Simon Says. I’m a good caller. This guy is great.

12:07 Bad sign. Louisville scores. No one on Wake goes to pick up the ball. They’re all worried about getting spaced to face the Louisville press. Called for 5-second violation. Louisville scores. Wake turns the ball over. Louisville scores. The Cardinals have scored six points in 27 seconds and Wake hasn’t even crossed half court this half.

12:08 I’m officially in the Jeff-Walz-is-the-Ferret camp. Louisville is clearly getting the benefit of the calls, but he is whiney beyond belief. Even with his team now up 49-28 and running away with the game.

12:25 Jewel Spear may be the most gifted player on Wake, but the player I want on my team is Elise Harrison. She’s a baller and she’s got half of Wake’s 28 points.

12: 27 There’s no comeback in the cards for Wake. And that was a wasted pun opportunity. 1:45 left in the third and Louisville is up 53-30. This game is over. Louisville will end up winning it, 74-48. Van Lith finishes with 26 points, so Clemson’s Amari Robinson is still game high scorer for the tourney with 27 points.

1:45 The first domino has fallen. Pitt has released head coach Lance White after five years. He was apparently a very good assistant, including at FSU. But Pitt has been a dumpster fire the past two years.

1:45 Notre Dame’s Olivia Miles is now officially listed as day-day. But the wording of the announcement sounds like the Irish head coach is thinking about the NCAAs. Don’t think we’ll see her here in Greensboro. Over on the NC State side, Diamond Johnson isn’t playing either, so both teams are missing their point guards.

1:47 Nice moment as NC State coach Wes Moore stops by to say words with both Miles and Dara Mabrey (who’s been out for a while).

2:00 In the Meaningless Metric, Notre Dame’s promotional vid is much worse. Too much slow motion, and at least two of the clips came from last year. NC State’s vid with three ACC Tournament trophies is too much to overcome. Advantage State.

2:02 Miles is walking very gingerly on the sideline. She’s not day-day. And we won’t see her this weekend.

2:07 Huge home court advantage for the Wolfpack, though the 300 Notre Dame fans in attendance may be the loudest contingent, on a per capita basis. Wes Moore is already whining about calls. Like Jeff Walz, Moore must feel entitled. 3:46 remaining in the first, it’s NC State up 12-10. Notre Dame’s Sonia Citron has eight of those.

2:28 The big-on-big battle in the trenches is fascinating. If there is someone who can body State’s River Baldwin, it’s Notre Dame’s Lauren Ebo.

2:38 There is an NC State staffer who’s job it is to hold aloft a board with the numbers of the five players who are going in. Really? Five women, who presumably are worthy of college, need such a reminder?

2:40 1:42, second quarter, State up 22-20, and the crowd is getting testy. They aren’t getting every call.

2:42 Notre Dame’s Maddy Westbeld took over the game’s final minute of the half, canning a three with seven seconds left. She’s on a personal 7-0 run and gave the Fighting Irish the 25-22 half time lead.

3:06 The ref got the call wrong. NC State’s Azaiha James was fouled, but the referee called it a travel. But I’m so sick of State’s whiney-ness, that I’m fine with the call. Karma is served.

3:07 It’s ND 36, State 28, and to borrow a soccer phrase, Notre Dame has been getting to all the 50-50 balls.

3:20 44 seconds remaining in the third. NC State’s Saniya Rivers is the first person I’ve seen this tournament who understands how to play the endgame to get two shots to Notre Dame’s one. She does her part, getting fouled and canning both free throws.

3:22 The fourth begins with Notre Dame holding onto a 44-37 lead.

3:29 Citron for three and a 49-37 lead. Citron’s the best player on the court by a mile. (I’m getting punchy, but did you see what I did there?)

3:32 The Wolfpack fans’ anger is turning into anguish, and their howls of unhappiness is music to the ears of this neutral. Notre Dame is breaking this game open, 55 – 41.

3:33 Now it’s Camille Hobby and Lauren Ebo going at it in the trenches. Seriously, it’s center vs nose guard drills on the court.

3:34 NC State’s Jakia Brown-Turner cans the first three of the game for the Wolfpack. 55-44.

3:39 NC State makes a second trey. Out comes the full court press and the Wolfpack gets a pair of steals and we’ve got a ballgame. It’s 57-51 with 3:48 left.

3:42 The battle under the boards is ferocious. (Note: it’s going to be harbinger of the Duke vs UNC matchup, though I didn’t know it at the time.)

3:52 We’re in the free throw portion of the game. And there will be a lot of them. Notre Dame is 15-18 thus far while State is 10-12. The teams are putting on a clinic on how to shoot from the charity stripe.

4:00 Defensive stand of the day from Notre Dame. With 34 seconds remaining and State down by five, it took them 17 seconds to even launch the shot. It airballs and that’s the game. Sonia Citron is now high scorer for the tourney with 28 points.

4:02 Two North Carolina schools have lost today, and with UNC and Duke facing off against each other, it’s guaranteed one more will depart.

5:41 Norm from the VIP lounge confidently predicts that Duke will avenge their 45-41 (remember that score) loss to UNC from the previous week.

6:00 Duke’s promotional video does what no other vid has done: it provokes the fans and Tar Heels start booing. Who boos a video? Oh, right, look who we’re talking about. It’s got way too much slo-mo, but I’m going to give it to the Dookies on this one.

6:02 The refs have been consistent today, if nothing else. Duke’s Reigan Richardson is called for a travel that no guy ever would.

6:09 It’s Mascot Night. All 15 of them are still here, and they’re doing the T-shirt toss. Strongest arm: Cav Man and the Leprechaun. Worst: Buzz (Georgia Tech) and The Deacon.

6:10 Deja Kelly vs Celeste Taylor — they’re marking each other. Very old school.

6:11 Well, they will when UNC isn’t in a zone.

6:24 It’s a battle out there, bodies flying every where. The teams shoot a combined 7-26 en route to Duke being up 9-8 after one quarter.

6:27 The referees are letting the women play. It is very physical. And sloppy. Duke’s trying to run with Carolina, but they are just not taking care of the ball.

6:28 UNC matches the hustle with sloppiness of their own.

6:31 UNC’s Deja Kelly has the best handle in the ACC. She’s screened so she can go right, but she goes to the left anyway and beats her defender to the rim. UNC up 16-14.

6:41 The teams are now shooting 13-47 from the floor. Kelly airballs a three.

6:42 She atones by canning by her next one. And she’s fouled. four-point play. UNC up 22-16. The Tar Heels are starting to feel it and this overwhelmingly Sky Blue crowd is in full voice.

6:45 UNC has cut down the sloppiness. Duke has not and they go into the locker room trailing 24-19. Looks like Duke could be in for another 40-point night.

7:05 Eva Hodgson scores her points in bunches. She connects on a pair of threes on two straight trips. UNC up 30-21.

7:06 Celeste Taylor blocks a Hodgson trey. But then she throws away the fast break. Duke is trying to out-run UNC to a win.

7:07 I’ve got that-guy behind me. He’s mansplaining the game to his partner. Let me assure you, he’s not as smart as he thinks he is. I’m gonna change seats.

7:13 3:50 remaining in the third quarter. UNC has five fouls, Duke has 13. This game is a rock fight and this disparity says more about the refs than it does about Duke. They are both going at it hammer and nails.

7:22 Actually, I stayed in my seat. The guy behind me is comedy gold. Duke’s pulled within two, 36-34 and he’s apoplectic. And I love the smell of UNC apoplexy…

7:24 8:34 in the fourth. Duke gets three offensive boards before Taylor is finally able to convert and we’re all tied up, 36-36.

7:32 5:42 left in the game. It’s 38-38. Yes, you read that right. They have only scored one bucket apiece in the last three minutes. It’s as ugly a game as I’ve seen all year, but there women are leaving it all on the court. Kelly is going to end up with a 4-22 shooting night, but that’s what happens in a rivalry game. At least one this storied.

7:50 Final score 44-40 in favor of Duke. Remember last week’s game? VIP Norm is vindicated, though I can’t find him to congratulate him. Aesthetically, this was an ugly game to watch, but it’s why I write about women. They shed the same blood, sweat and tears as the me. And believe me, it was shed here today.

8:23 Moving on to Virginia Tech vs Miami, Tech is the media darling and the consensus favorite to win it all here in Greensboro. They are healthy and they have Liz Kitley, who is being awarded the Kay Yow Student Athlete Award for the second straight year in Women’s Basketball. Add that to her two consecutive ACC Player of the Year trophies, and she’s had quite the career.

8:27 Tech’s promotional video was the worst. Boring highlights, boring individual intros. But Miami also is bad, so I don’t know what to tell you.

8:31 It takes three minutes before anyone scores, so it is fitting it that is Georgia Amoore, who has made the most threes in the ACC this year, cans it from deep. Meanwhile, Miami’s Haley Cavinder and Destiny Harden have both air-balled their threes.

8:34 The matchup I’ve been waiting for has arrived. Miami’s Kyla Oldacre is in. She is one of the few people in the ACC who can look Liz Kitley in the eye.

8:40 Amoore hits her second trey. 4:02 left in the first and it’s Tech up 10-2.

8:43 Random thought: Why don’t cheerleaders get seats? I don’t care about cheerleaders. In fact, cheering is the one thing I would have prohibited my daughter from doing, but shouldn’t they be able to sit in chairs? Like the rest of us?

8:45 While I’m pondering the stupidity of cheerleading, Tech has jumped out to a 17-5 lead. Scratch that, a 20-5 lead as Amoore hits her third triple.

9:02 Miami just doesn’t have the size across the board. 5’6” Haley Cavinder is guarding 6’2” D’Asia Gregg down low.

9:03 Now she’s guarding 6’0” Taylor Geiman. It’s not going well. 1:47 left in the half and it’s 29-13 Tech.

9:08 Halftime and it’s 29-15. Given how poorly Miami is playing and how hot Georgia Amoore has been, Miami should not be still within striking range.

9:10 Question: How much would a T-shirt gun cost? I want one.

9:11 Answer: No, I don’t. $700 - $1700.

9:21 I’m sitting two rows away from a Hokie who’s spitting into a cup. Talk about confirming stereotypes.

9:33 Big, stiff, back-to-the-basket centers, who may thrive in college, don’t usually fare well in the pros. And that goes for men or women. I’ve read lots of places that Liz Kitley has what it takes to be the exception, but I just don’t see it. She’s going to score 22 points tonight and just about every one is a result of her being 6 foot freaking 6.

4:58 left in the third and Miami has yet to score this half.

9:43 Thinking again about Kitley… The best player on this team is Georgia Amoore, who just hit a three that all 6000 of us in attendance knew was going in the moment it left her hands.

9:44 Oops, there’s another one. Amoore is now 5-9 from deep and this game is over.

9:45 Well, there is still another quarter to play. But I’m beat. 11 games in three days. Two hours to write each column. A two-hour round-trip to my friend’s house where I’m staying. I’m outta here.

The stage is set as all four of the top seeds have advanced. It’s Louisville vs Notre Dame at noon and Virginia Tech and Duke at 2:30.

You can read the Day 1 diary here.

You can read about Day 2 here.