The old expression is that styles make fights. This game was certainly a clash of styles. (23) Syracuse (21-6, 11-3 ACC) did what they always do which is extend pressure from the opening tip and try to get turnovers. They also take a ton of threes. They lead the ACC in three pointers attempted. For their part (10) Florida State (21-5, 11-2 ACC) wins with defense and rebounding combined with efficient offense. Both teams played their game in Syracuse tonight but the Orange executed their style a bit better and came away with an 83-73 victory on Senior Night.
Syracuse wasted no time executing their strategy in the first quarter. As expected the Orange came out with full court pressure. The Noles did not respond well. FSU had four turnovers within the first two minutes of the game. SU also shot three after three after three. Senior guard Brianna Butler had four threes in the first quarter alone. It wasn't all Orange in the first quarter because when FSU wasn't turning the ball over they were generally getting layups. However the game was being played at the frenetic pace favored by SU and the Noles found themselves down after the first quarter 26-16.
FSU responded in the second stanza. The Noles went on a 13-0 run early in the second quarter to tie the game at 31-31. Of course Syracuse broke the run with a three pointer. The two teams traded baskets from then on to get to halftime with Syracuse up 47-44.
The third quarter played out similar to the first half except it was a different Syracuse player doing the damage from behind the arc. Senior Taylor Ford made three three pointers in the quarter to keep her team afloat. Ford was probably not featured prominently in the Seminole scouting report as she only had 13 three pointers made this season and only scored eight points in the last five games. However, she chose to break out against FSU as she shot 5-7 from 3 and finished with 15 total points in the game.
The Noles hung tough though behind the play of Shakayla Thomas (19pts, 6reb) and Adut Bulgak (23pts, 9reb). FSU trailed 65-60 after the third quarter but finished it strong as they scored the last five points of the quarter.
Unfortunately for the Noles the momentum would not last. FSU was able to cut the lead to three but that was as close as the Seminoles would get. Missed layups and free throws helped doom the Noles as the comeback fell short.
Florida State simply shot poorly in this game. They shot 45.9% from the field but many of those shots were layups. The Noles were 0-10 from three and 58.6% (17-29) from the free throw line. The Orange were 35.5% (11-31) from three and 78.6% (22-28) from the free throw line. FSU didn't need to match Syracuse outside the arc but 0-10 won't get it done.
Turnovers were the other big story. Syracuse leads the nation in forcing turnovers and the Noles helped them maintain their lead in this game. FSU committed 28 turnovers in this game (SU only had 16). Many were of the live ball variety that allowed SU to get out on the break and get easy baskets to help them set up their press.
FSU was able to pound the Orange inside doubling up Syracuse in the paint (52-26) and holding the rebounding edge 48-35. However when a team scores 11 more three pointers it's tough to win that game. The Noles also need to cash in on their free throws at a higher rate.
This game ended in a predictable way for FSU as it was a road game against a ranked team. All of FSU's five losses have been on the road against teams that are now currently ranked in the top 25. The Seminoles will try to get back into the winning column against Notre Dame on Monday Feb 22 at 7pm in the TLCCC (ESPN 2). More on that game coming soon.