The greatest season in SU women’s basketball history has been extended by at least one more game. That adjustment to the schedule happened on Friday night when the fourth-seeded Orange roared back from a double-digit third quarter deficit to upset top-seed South Carolina in the Sweet Sixteen, 80-72. The greatest win in the program’s history pushes Syracuse into the Elite Eight for the first time.
SU (28-7), who trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half, rallied from an 11-point deficit with a little over two minutes remaining in the third quarter. The Orange got within a half dozen before the end of the third, then blasted the Gamecocks (33-2) in the final quarter, outscoring them by a 30-16 margin. In fact, Syracuse held a 17-7 advantage in the game’s final three minutes.
Brianna Butler connected on a three-pointer with just under three minutes on the clock to put the Orange in front for good and trigger an 8-1 run. Butler would hit another triple with 1:12 to go to reinstate a six-point SU lead, then Alexis Peterson and Brittany Sykes each made three free throws in the final 21 seconds to preserve the win.
Peterson paced all scorers in the game with 26 points, while Butler scored 16 of her 18 points after halftime, including hitting four three-point field goals. Sykes added 17 points for SU, while Briana Day had 13 rebounds, including nine on offensive end, to go with her seven points.
The Orange will return to action on Sunday afternoon, when they face #7-seed Tennessee in the Midwest Regional final. The Volunteers (22-13) advanced to the regional final by cruising to a 78-62 win over third-seeded Ohio State.
ESPN will televise the Elite Eight game between SU and Tennessee, which tips off at 3:30pm Eastern.