Virginia Tech (14-7, 2-6 ACC) feasted on their non-conference schedule starting the year 13-1. The schedule wasn't super tough but it did feature an impressive 14 point win at (19) Tennessee. The Hokies are led by steady point guard Vanessa Panousis but Tech really features a balanced attack. VT wins with defense and tries to have just enough offense to get wins. That strategy didn't work in Tallahassee this afternoon as the Hokies fell to (11) Florida State 68-50.
Florida State (18-4, 8-1 ACC) started the game on an 8-2 run. Leticia Romero and Brittany Brown each scored four points to power FSU's quick start. However, both teams were a bit off early. It took almost three minutes before either team scored the first field goal which was a layup by Brown. Both teams opened in a man to man defense and FSU also employed a 3/4 court trap. The Seminoles played exceptional defense in the quarter and enjoyed a 16-5 lead starting the second quarter.
Ending the first quarter and beginning the second quarter the Noles hit the Hokies with a 14-2 run. That run gave FSU a 22-7 lead and put the Hokies into a hole that they were never able to dig out of for the rest of the afternoon. Tech never again got the lead lower than double digits. The Noles kept the lead by playing solid defense holding VT to 32.7% shooting. FSU also dominated on the boards (as usual) by a 41-27 margin.
FSU employed a balanced attack to get the victory. Aside from Thomas there was no other Nole in double figures. The winning formula was similar for FSU. The Seminoles overcame mediocre (41.1% FG) to poor (23.5% 3PT) shooting with defense and rebounding. In a very encouraging sign, FSU again was able to hold the turnovers under 20 with only 14 for the game. When FSU can hold down the turnovers they are very hard to beat because they have so much talent.
The Noles have had relatively few injuries and this has allowed Coach Semrau to firm up her rotation. It seems as if the players are finding a comfort level in their roles as the season goes on. We figured that as the season progressed FSU would improve if they could maintain good health and that is what we are seeing. We are also seeing some good player development. Kai James only played nine minutes due to matchups but she did some nice things when she got in the game. James is not known for her quickness but she is moving her feet better on defense and she also displayed a nice jump hook in the lane. James made every shot she took in the game (2-2 FG, 4-4 FT). Continued improvement from rotation players like James is critical as FSU moves forward to take on the better teams in the postseason.
The bottom line is that this was a bit of a routine game for the Seminoles. That is all to the good. FSU is one to the best teams in the nation and a middle of the road team like VT should not give them problems at home if they expect to reach their goals. The Seminoles are still on track for their goals of being a top four seed in the ACC Tournament (which gets them a double bye) and a top four seed in the NCAA Tournament (which gets them home games in the first two rounds).
The Noles will have a week of practice before they return to the TLCCC to host Clemson on Sunday February 7 at 2pm (ESPN 3). FSU beat Clemson 85-40 on January 14. Clemson (4-17, 0-8 ACC) is still winless in the ACC but the Tigers had their best performance of the season today against Pitt only losing 59-56. Sagarin has FSU as 42 point favorites.