LOUISVILLE — With every possession looming large, Kianna Smith and Hailey Van Lith calmly seized the chances that No. 3 Louisville needed them to against Syracuse.
Smith and 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 and help the Cardinals escape Syracuse 84-71 on Thursday night.
The determined Orange rallied to tie the game at 62 early in the fourth quarter 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.
It just took the Cardinals' veterans to set the example.
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.