Can’t stage a comeback if you are never down
The new strategy for elite teams seems to be going down by a few points heading into the 4th quarter so that everyone thinks you are going to lose, just to comeback with seconds to spare. It worked on Sunday for #1 Louisville, #2 NC State and #4 South Carolina.
Looking back at the box score, its hard to see how Louisville even pulled off their win against Wake Forest. Haley Van Lith only had 5 points and the Cardinals got out rebounded by 11.
The big difference was free throw and outside shooting, areas in which Wake head coach Jen Hoover thought her team left a lot to be desired.
“I mean, you look at that — and that makes me sick — to see you had No. 1 in the country beaten and you missed 12 free throws, shot 50%. You just can’t do that.” The Demon Deacons were only 1-for-9 from three compared to Louisville’s 6-for-18. Dana Evans led the way with 25 for the Cardinals.
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Staying in the ACC, NC State had a disastrous 3rd quarter that left them down by 10 entering the final period. Unfortunately for Virginia Tech, the Wolfpack got hot at the wrong time, scoring 16 straight including a quartet of threes to cap off the comeback.
All-American Elissa Cunane is in the Covid protocol for NC State, so it was up to the secondary stars to show up. Jakia Brown-Turner, Kayla Jones, and Kai Crutchfield all eclipsed the 20 point mark to keep the Wolfpack undefeated on the season.
South Carolina’s comeback was much less nerve-racking, as they took the lead early in the 4th against LSU and were up as much as 9 points with a minute left before the Tigers scored some garbage time buckets.
Aliyah Boston had another double-double for the Gamecocks with 20 points and 14 boards, but Carolina continued to struggle from beyond the arc, going just 2-15. If they want to avoid these conference matchup scares they need to start hitting from deep.
It is also important to note that not all comeback attempts have happy endings. Syracuse was down 25 points at the half against Clemson and inexplicably crawled their way back to force overtime. The Orange then lost their momentum or simply ran out of energy as Clemson finished the job in OT.