LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Kianna Smith and Hailey Van Lith each scored 20 points, with Van Lith making a couple of clutch baskets to spark a critical 9-0 run in the final minutes to help No. 3 Louisville escape Syracuse 84-71 on Thursday night.
The determined Orange rallied to tie the game at 62 early in the fourth before Smith and Van Lith delivered consecutive 3s to give the Cardinals (14-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) a 68-64 edge. Van Lith made another basket before Olivia Cochran followed with a three-point play to make it 73-66 with 3 minutes remaining. Van Lith added a jumper and Emily Engstler two free throws for a 77-66 cushion, Mykasa Robinson added a layup and Engstler closed with the game's final five points to cap Louisville's 14th consecutive victory.
Christianna Carr had 19 points and Chrislyn Carr 17 for Syracuse (8-8, 1-5), which shot 48% but dropped its fourth in a row.
Smith made 4 of 7 3-pointers and 8 of 12 shots overall, while Van Lith was 9 of 16 and 2 of 6 from deep. Louisville finished 34 of 66 from the field, with every basket needed to put away Syracuse. Engstler had 15 points and eight rebounds against her former team, while Cochran had 13 points and seven boards.
Syracuse: The Orange overcame several deficits to seize momentum and the lead after halftime to keep the Cardinals on their heels. Failing to defend Smith and Van Lith from the perimeter ultimately hurt, along with scoring just five points in the final three minutes.
Louisville: Every time the Cardinals seemed poised to break the game open, sloppy play and missed layups opened the door for the Orange to rally and even lead. Smith and Van Lith bailed them out with clutch 3s, which snapped teammates out of a funk to close strong.
Syracuse visits Virginia on Sunday.
Louisville travels to Boston College on Sunday.