CONWAY, S.C. (AP) Lexie Brown didn’t have a good experience in her first trip to the ACC Tournament back when she played for Maryland as a freshman.
She’s much happier this time around playing for Duke as a redshirt junior.
Brown scored 22 points to help No. 13 Duke beat 21st-ranked Syracuse 68-46 on Friday night in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals.
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”We lost early it wasn’t fun,” said Brown, who transferred to Duke last year. ”It’s a nice experience to be back in the ACC. It’s fitting that the entire tournament is in a different location, I’m on a different team and it’s a new experience for me.”
Brown and her Blue Devils will play No. 16 Miami in the semifinals on Saturday. The two teams played on Feb. 19 and Duke won by 13.
”It’s the postseason, they aren’t the same team they were a week ago,” Brown said.
The Blue Devils (26-4) also played stellar defense on ACC player of the year Alexis Peterson. They held her to just nine points, nearly 15 below her average. She missed eight of her first nine shots and finished the game 4-for-21.
”Primarily their defense,” said Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman on why Peterson struggled. ”They did a good job on ball screens and their post players did a good job keeping her in front of them. She didn’t get to the rim. … Give them a lot of credit for what they did defensively.”
Duke led 42-39 with about 1:30 left in the third quarter before scoring the final nine points of the period which gave the Blue Devils a 51-39 lead. Brown had a 3-point play and two free throws during the spurt.
Kendall Cooper had an emphatic block in the corner on Isabella Slim’s 3-pointer from the corner right before the buzzer.
Syracuse (21-10) could only get within 10 in the fourth quarter. Gabby Cooper scored 18 points, hitting six 3-pointers, and Brittney Sykes added 13 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Orange.
Brown got the Blue Devils going early. She hit a 3-pointer from the corner in front of the Syracuse bench to beat the first quarter buzzer and give the Blue Devils a 15-14 advantage. She knelt and pumped her fist as the ball swished through the net.
The teams traded baskets for most of the second quarter and Kyra Lambert’s 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer gave the Blue Devils a 29-26 advantage.