With Peterson leading the way, the Orange defeated the Demon Deacons by a final score of 73-62.
“[Peterson] won the game for us, period,” Hillsman said. “This is the best point guard performance of my nine years here, by far. It’s not even close.”
Slow Start for Both Sides
Players on both teams struggled to keep up with Peterson’s offensive production during the first 20 minutes of play.
While Peterson put 17 points on the scoreboard before halftime, her teammates Brianna Butler and Diamond Henderson combined for just 6 first-half points.
Syracuse shot 28 percent from the field and went 3 for 17 from three-point range.
On the other side of the court, Wake Forest failed to score a field goal during the first 10:04 minutes of play.
Wake Forest Head Coach Hoover said the lack of offensive production early in the game against Syracuse was uncharacteristic for her team.
“For whatever reason, I’m not sure why we started cold — maybe it’s because we’re in the north,” Hoover said. “We had not had that kind of start in the last three games in the ACC, we’ve actually been starting really well.”
Forward Dearica Hamby ended the scoring drought for the Demon Deacons with a layup at the 9:56 mark.
But after 15 minutes of play, field goal shooting for the Demon Deacons sat at 14 percent.
Despite poor offensive production from the field, a pair of free-throws from Hamby put Wake Forest within five points of the Orange with 4:35 left on the clock.
Final First-Half Minutes
With the Deacons closing in on the Cuse lead, Peterson went in for a layup and came down with two points and a chance for a three-point play after a foul by Wake Forest freshman guard Amber Campbell.
Peterson made the free-throw, giving Syracuse an 8-point cushion.
Coach Jen Hoover said she hoped her team would be able to keep the ball out of Peterson’s hands as much as possible.
“She’s one of the most dynamic point guards I’ve seen in the league,” Hoover said. “She’s a big threat because she can do some many things with the ball.”
After a pair of blocks, a layup, and a made free-throw by Briana Day, the Orange held a 9-point lead over Wake Forest at the 2:44 mark.
With under two minutes remaining before halftime, Syracuse put 14 points between itself and the Deacons when Peterson hit her third three-pointer of the first half.
Hamby answered back with a steal and a pair of layups for Wake Forest, making the score 32-24 at halftime, with Syracuse leading the Demon Deacons.
Hamby Acts Quickly
Less than two minutes into the second half, Hamby put Wake Forest back within five points of the Orange.
The 6’3 senior accounted for a pair of steals, a jumper, and a rebound within that time.
But even after Hamby ended the night with 28 points and 11 rebounds, her performance couldn’t keep Peterson and the Orange from leaving with the win.
Peterson Finishes What She Started
After the Deacons cut the Orange lead down to just two points with 3:06 remaining in the game, Peterson hit a three-pointer that helped put momentum back on the side of Syracuse.
A foul on Briana Day put Hamby on the line and ultimately put Wake Forest back within four points of the lead, but Peterson made another layup and the Orange never looked back.
After the win, Peterson gave credit to her teammates for helping produce a career-high 32 points.
"My teammates really keep me motivated, keep me going,” Peterson said. “They’re my biggest fans and I love them to death. A night like tonight doesn’t happen if I don’t have these players around me.”
Up Next for the Orange
Syracuse improves to 12-5 on the season and 2-2 in the ACC.
The Orange face Boston College (8-9, 0-3) on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Chestnut Hill, Mass.