Coming into this game we wondered whether Florida State (23-7, 13-4 ACC) had Miami's (24-7, 12-6 ACC) number because FSU had won five in a row and nine of the last ten against the Canes. Well Miami changed the number today as they exploded in the second half to get a big 74-56 win over the Seminoles.
The game started out close and in the first quarter no team had greater than a four point lead. FSU took a 17-16 lead into the second stanza. FSU started the second quarter on an 8-0 run that ended with a Shakayla Thomas jumper to take a 25-16 lead. Miami immediately responded with a 10-0 run to take a one point lead. From there the game stayed relatively close and FSU tied the game at halftime on an Emiah Bingley buzzer beater.
Unfortunately the NCAA has a rule that all games must have two halves. FSU came out of the locker room ice cold. The Noles missed their first 13 shots from the field. When Thomas hit FSU's first second half shot there were only three minutes left in the quarter. At that point the Noles were lucky only to be down seven points. For the rest of the quarter the teams mostly traded baskets and FSU entered the fourth quarter down 52-45.
In the fourth quarter the abysmal shooting continued for FSU. The Seminoles only hit one of their first nine shots (I'm not even counting all of the free throw misses). This terrible shooting (along with a lot of turnovers) allowed UM to build a 65-50 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Down 15 with less than five minutes to play, FSU needed a miracle to come back and it didn't happen for the Noles. FSU was only able to manage six more points and they fell by the final score of 74-56.
FSU shot 33.3% from the field (30.8% 3PT) but it seemed much worse. Miami shot 47.5% from the field (53.3% 3PT). Those numbers show that FSU didn't play great defense but the real problems were at the offensive end. FSU simply couldn't make shots today. They were getting good looks but they just couldn't finish. There is also the issue of turnovers. FSU had 25 today (UM had 20). The Seminoles simply must take better care of the ball.
FSU didn't lose this game due to lack of effort. The Noles simply allowed Miami to control the tempo. The Canes sped FSU up and forced the Noles into mistakes. When you have this many turnovers combined with such awful shooting against a ranked team this will be the result.
Before the game FSU was "on the bubble" for a top four seed in the NCAA Tournament. This loss will likely drop the Noles to a five seed. The Noles could still steal a four seed but they would probably need some upsets in tournaments around the country to help them. If the Noles do indeed drop to a fifth seed they will lose the right to host the first two rounds in the tournament. They will also have tougher opponents in the first two rounds. Therefore this loss could make it considerably tougher to make the Sweet 16.
FSU's next game will be in the NCAA Tournament and the Noles will now have to wait and see whether they will get lucky and be able to play at home. Wherever the game is played FSU must clean up the turnovers and remove the lid from the basket or their stay in the NCAAs will be short indeed.
The NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Selection Show will be on Monday March 14 at 7pm on ESPN.