Pitt (8-10, 0-5 ACC) is a team in transition. The Panthers are really young with 90.2% of their scoring coming from freshmen and sophomores. Pitt is also a relatively small team. They only have one player (Stasha Carey 6'2) above six-foot tall in their lineup. However they do have the massive 6'11 Marvadene "Bubbles" Anderson on their roster. Anderson has been named the world's tallest female teenager and has appeared on several shows including the Oprah Winfrey Show. Unfortunately her impact has been minimal as she has suffered two ACL injuries since coming to Pitt and has yet to play this year due to blood clots in her leg.
Without Anderson the Seminoles (14-4, 4-1 ACC) were able to pound Pitt inside to the tune of 40 points in the paint. FSU has been playing better defense lately and continued that in this game (until the fourth quarter) utilizing a 2-3 zone to force Pitt to beat them from outside. This was a good strategy as the Panthers were only shooting 29.1% from 3 point range entering the game. Pitt did a little better in this game shooting 37.5% from 3 (9-24).
The game started off well for FSU as they jumped out to a 9-4 lead. Then both teams went cold and there was no scoring for three minutes until a Shakayla Thomas layup broke the ice. The Noles ended the quarter with a 15-10 lead. The second quarter went much better for Florida State. The Noles hit Pitt with a 21-5 run to extend the lead to 36-15. The Panthers responded with a 10-2 run of their own to cut the Seminole lead to 13 at the half. In the third quarter FSU extended the lead to 23 behind balanced scoring. FSU had six players score in the quarter and it looked llike the Noles were cruising to another easy win. However Pitt refused to go away.
In the fourth FSU took their foot off the gas pedal and the Panthers took advantage. Pitt started the quarter on a 12-0 run that cut the FSU lead to 11. At that point FSU woke up a bit and the teams mostly traded baskets until the game ended with the 66-55 final score.
There were several good things to take out of this game for the Noles. Thomas (12pts, 5reb) came back from her non-suspension and generally played well. Pitt had trouble with her quickness and athleticism and she was able to get her turnaround and midrange shot off with little difficulty. FSU also won the rebounding battle and most importantly kept the turnovers under 20 for the second straight game (they had 16 today). If the Noles can keep the turnovers down they have repeatedly proven that they are capable of efficient high level offense. Clemson and Pitt aren't the best teams defensively so we still don't know for sure if FSU has really turned the corner with this issue but the early returns are good.
Leticia Romero (18pts, 7reb, 6ast) also looked more aggressive offensively today as she tied her season high in points. Ivey Slaughter and Adut Bulgak combined for 21 rebounds and generally controlled the boards. FSU is a good not great defensive team but when they are rebounding this well it greatly improves their defense because they don't allow many second chance points. Today the Noles held Pitt to only 10 second chance points while scoring 16 themselves.
FSU got outscored in the fourth quarter 19-7 to let Pitt have some semblance of life but the Noles led this game for over 39 of the 40 minutes of game play. From the opening minutes the game was never really in doubt. FSU should have concentrated better at the end of the game but the bottom line is that they are returning to Tally with another comfortable win under their belts.
Florida State hosts Virginia on Thursday January 21 at 7pm in the TLCCC (ESPN 3).