GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) - Mariya Moore has been a strong second scoring option for No. 7 Louisville all season. Now the sophomore is struggling as her team pushes into the NCAA Tournament.
Moore went scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting in Saturday’s 80-75 loss to No. 17 Syracuse in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference women’s tournament. It was her third straight rough shooting day and followed a 1-for-12 performance to open the tournament a day earlier.
“It’s just her mental approach to things right now,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “When things don’t go well, she struggles.”
Moore came in averaging 14.5 points, but she had managed just three points on 1-for-4 shooting against Pittsburgh to end the regular season. Then she struggled Friday against Georgia Tech and couldn’t get going against the Orange.
In her two tournament games, Moore missed 17 of 18 shots and all 13 of her 3-point tries.
“She took some good shots, they just didn’t go in,” Walz said. “But then you’ve got to do a better job going and rebounding, you know, taking care of the ball - just small things like that. She’s too good of a player to allow some missed shots to affect everything she does.”
For Syracuse, Cornelia Fondren matched her career high of 18 points and hit two critical free throws with 18.1 seconds left.
Alexis Peterson scored 19 points to lead the third-seeded Orange (25-6), who outlasted the second-seeded Cardinals (25-7) in a tight finish to earn their first trip to the ACC title game and a date with No. 2 Notre Dame on Sunday.
Fondren, a 5-foot-8 senior averaging 6.5 points and 5.5 rebounds off the bench, also set a career high with 13 rebounds. And despite coming in as a 60 percent shooter at the foul line, she calmly sunk two with 18.1 seconds left for a 78-75 lead.
Then, after Briahanna Jackson missed a 3-pointer, Brianna Butler hit two free throws with 5.5 seconds left to seal the win.
Syracuse was trying to reach just its third conference tournament final in its history, the other two being when it won the 1985 Big East title, then lost in the 1988 Big East final, according to STATS. The Orange lost in the quarterfinals two years ago in their first ACC tournament appearance, then in last season’s second round.
Syracuse had won 13 of 15 coming in, with the only losses coming to Notre Dame and Louisville.
ACC player of the year Myisha Hines-Allen had 27 points and 12 rebounds to lead Louisville, which was in a conference tournament semifinal for the fourth straight season dating to its time in the Big East.
The Orange got off to a fast start and led by 12 early in the second quarter, though Louisville closed that gap to 39-33 by halftime and then tied it entering the final period.
Syracuse: Syracuse scored 21 points off turnovers. . The Orange made just 6 of 27 3-pointers (22 percent). . Syracuse had four players in double figures and 19 second-chance points.
Louisville: Freshman Asia Durr scored a season-high 23 points. . Louisville committed 16 turnovers. … Jackson scored 18.
Butler, Syracuse’s No. 2 scorer at 14.5 points, picked up her fourth foul with 6:11 left in the third quarter. But she came up big late, first by hitting a 3-pointer after Louisville had pushed to a 73-69 lead.
Then, after a pair of go-ahead free throws from Fondren, she hit a jumper to push the lead to 76-73 near the 2-minute mark. She finished with 12 points.
Syracuse plays No. 2 Notre Dame in Sunday’s championship game.
Louisville will play in the NCAA Tournament.
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